Original Research

Refugee migrants as agents of change: Strategies for improved livelihoods and self-reliance

Barnabé A. Msabah
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 40, No 1 | a1851 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v40i1.1851 | © 2019 Barnabé A. Msabah | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 March 2018 | Published: 26 February 2019

About the author(s)

Barnabé A. Msabah, Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; and, Department of Biblical and Theological Studies, Pan Africa Christian University, Kenya


Although many refugees leave their home countries with a certain level of uncertainty concerning their survival in the host country, they are hopeful of improving their livelihood and thus being self-reliant. They seize available opportunities in order to start a new life. In doing so, refugees move beyond solely depending on charity actions, having devised survival mechanisms in their new setting by means of self-reliant strategies. This article, therefore, looks at the refugee migrants as agents of change in view of the self-reliance strategies they use for survival. Furthermore, the article points to the courage of the refugees in the host country by presenting qualitative evidence on how refugees’ livelihood strategies have contributed to the improvement of their own well-being in general and, in particular, that of some locals. The data for this study were gathered using in-depth interviews with refugees living in Cape Town, South Africa.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This paper is transdisciplinary in that it presents an ecclesial response to the global challenges facing the refugee community. This is because it aims at transforming the painful experiences of the refugees into opportunities for improved livelihoods and holistic well-being. The paper further depicts how practical theology informs understandings of the phenomenological techniques in an attempt to explore the rhythms of social life from the perspective of the issue under investigation. The article is, therefore, a theological underpinning that informs development practitioners and practical theologians on how to efficiently respond to the pressing needs of refugees using hope as an available resource. In this manner, the article presents strategies that would assist policy-makers in devising sustainable policies and programmes that aim at improving refugees’ livelihoods.


practical theology; agents of change; improved well-being; refugee phenomenon; hope


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Crossref Citations

1. “When Are You Going Back to Your Country?”: The Refugee Phenomenon and the Complexity of Healthcare Services in South Africa
Barnabé Anzuruni Msabah
Black Theology  vol: 20  issue: 1  first page: 78  year: 2022  
doi: 10.1080/14769948.2022.2041777