Heading up a philanthropic foundation during the toxic brew of COVID-19, which has brought a health, humanitarian and economic crisis and a fundamental shakeup of civil society has been both a deeply challenging ordeal, as well as an opportunity to reset and grab opportunities that promise a long-term ability to build back better.
As Covid-19 diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics become available, we must ensure equal, and affordable access for not only citizens, but for everyone in South Africa, including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants (irrespective of legal status and documentation).
When my team and I first began tracking the new coronavirus as it spread across the globe, we thought about it in abstract terms: a problem to be solved. We focused specifically on how the virus would impact South Africa, given the particular challenges we face, such as glaring inequality coupled with high rates of TB, HIV/Aids and noncommunicable diseases.
As South Africa puts in place measures to curtail the spread of Covid-19, the direct relationship between a pandemic and rising levels of gender-based violence cannot be overlooked.
I’ve received a flood of emails since sending out my last email in January. Some writers offered words of encouragement; others posed questions. I have been unable to respond to each email due to a frenetic global induction schedule coupled with my regular work, but please be assured that I have read every one.
Today marks my 45th day at the helm of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) – an organisation I have long admired for its bravery in advancing equality, social justice and basic human rights in my country – and as a member of the African and global Open Society Foundations. This time has been something of a whirlwind for me but also stimulating and enlightening. It has filled me with hope and a sense of purpose.
New York—The Open Society Foundations announced today the formation of a new $330,000 fund to support human rights defenders in South Africa, who in recent years have faced a steady increase in harassment, intimidation, and violence. Over three years, the fund—known as The South African Human Rights Defenders Fund—will support advocates working on land, housing, and environmental rights, with a special emphasis on aiding women advocates who face threats and violence.
The JER programme on 4 October 2019 hosted a dialogue with CSOs in response to incidents of xenophobic violence which occurred in early September 2019 in the inner cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg.
The Research and Advocacy Unit at OSF-SA supported Amnesty International South Africa in conducting a research project on the state of human rights of asylum seekers, refugees and international migrants at Refugee Reception Offices in South Africa.
The Open Society Foundations is excited to announce the appointment of Bulelwa Ngewana as the Director of Open Society Foundations South Africa (OSF-SA) effective from 1 November 2019.