Portrait of Lydia Hogewoning with colleagues
Photo provided by Lydia Hogewoning

From left are co-workers Samu Sithole, Lydia Hogewoning, Ayesha Ameen and Consolee Kanamugire in the office of Refugee Social Services.

Name: Lydia Hogewoning

“Resiliency is a beautiful and inspiring thing, and I am blessed to be able to witness it every day.”

- Lydia Hogewoning

Hometown: Frankford, Ont. (Grace Toronto Church)

Assignment: Through MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program, I serve as a social worker in Durban, South Africa, for MCC partner Refugee Social Services.

Typical day: Filled with appointments at the office, home visits and connecting clients with staff and community services. There are no two days that are the same, and never a dull moment! On Mondays we do intake appointments with new refugees or asylum-seekers, completing a holistic assessment of a client’s situation. Tuesday to Friday, I work with new and returning clients, brainstorming together to put in place short- and long-term plans for their integration — economically, socially and emotionally — in South Africa.This might mean temporary help with rent or food, referring a client for vocational training or education programs or getting clients connected to legal or health services related to their situation. We deal with advocacy, child  protection, mental health and a bit of everything in between.

Joys: Clients! Despite so many barriers and tragic circumstances, they encourage me with amazing representations of courage, strength and self-advocacy.Learning about the complexities facing refugees is fueling my passion for global justice and peacebuilding. I love that I get to use my training as a social worker to serve in this place. And, let’s face it, the tropical weather is a serious plus.

Challenges: The various systems influencing development, equality, reconciliation and quality of life here in South Africa are very complex. Factors like high unemployment, occurrences of xenophobia, bureaucratic backlogs and limited social resources make it difficult for refugees.

Explore SALT

Through MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program, young
adults from Canada and the U.S. are immersed in another culture for a year as they serve in fields such as education, agriculture, health care and more. Know young adults (between the ages of 18 and 30) who might be interested? Send them to mcccanada.ca/salt to learn more.

Other opportunities

MCC has workers in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle
East, as well as in Canada and the U.S. See mcccanada.ca/serve, contact your nearest MCC office or follow @servemcc on Twitter to learn about current service opportunities.

MCC workers are expected to exhibit a commitment to Christian faith, active church membership and biblical peacemaking.