The Centre for Faith and Community at the University of Pretoria, in conjunction with its research associates in its Social Justice and Reconciliation Research Group, is hosting a 2-hour colloquium in the title: “Solidarity with the homeless poor during Covid-19: we cannot be free unless you are free!”. 

When? FREEDOM DAY – 27 April 2020; 16h00-18h00, on Zoom.  

We will consider ways in which cities, civil society, churches and communities of faith, have responded to homelessness in South African cities and towns during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Listening to the narratives of those who opened their buildings or neighbourhoods for homeless neighbours, those who found safe shelter in these spaces, and those trying to walk the tightrope between local governments, civil society and the homeless community, we hope that this time could animate analysis, reflection, imagination and action – for churches, schools of theology, individuals and communities. 

Why now, and not when this is “over”? We believe that theological reflection should happen in the midst of practice and be informed by our current struggles, disconnects and emerging stories  of hope – providing us with a moment to discern and articulate new theological expressions that could serve us well going forward.

We will frame our discussion using terms such as solidarity and freedom, suggesting that journeys of solidarity – in which we share as equals, and embrace vulnerability in our midst – can at once become journeys of mutual liberation and freedom. 

How do we practice social solidarity during a time of distancing? What was learnt by those who took the risk to open temporary shelters and embrace complete strangers? What were the constraints for others, who found obstacles to opening up their spaces and places? How did temporary shelters mediate home, or freedom, and for whom?  Where should we go from here? 

If Covid-19 mediate solutions for homeless problems not contemplated before – new solidarities and new freedoms perhaps from old captivities – we have to hold on to those redemptive possibilities, going forward. 

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