Celeste moved to S.A when she was very young. Growing up in the country has been tough but the experience taught her how even through the hardest times, good friends make everything better.
I am originally from DRC. My parents came to South Africa as refugees from my home country because there was a big civil war going on and we feared for our lives.
Living in South Africa was not without its own problems.
My father struggled to get a job. People told him that it was because he was a foreigner, he eventually found a job as a mechanic.
The children at my school used to beat up my brother cause he couldn’t speak Zulu. At school, it became really hard cause no one wanted to be friends with me. But then one day when I was sitting alone, my classmate Ayanda came to sit next to me during maths. We started chatted and we actually hit it off. While other kids would tease me and call me names, she would defend me. She truly was the most incredible friend I had ever met. We have sleepovers, we go out to the movies. She is my debating partner. She is my best friend! We are really there for each other.
Since I have become close with Ayanda, things have become better. The teasing isn’t as bad these days and my family has settled more.People seem to be accepting us. Xenophobia isn’t gone but we are not letting anyone make us feel like we aren’t worthy of living here.
Here are my tips for being a better friend and neighbour
Treat people like you would want to be treated. Just because someone comes from a different country as you doesn’t make them any less of a person. Be kind to others. You don’t know what struggles your peers may be facing. Be the change. Stand up for people who are people bullied. Stand up to your peers who are mean even if they are your friends.
Are you from another country and living in South Africa? Share your story with us in the comments. If you are currently experiencing this and need someone to talk to, you can call Childline on 0800 55 555
NOTE: The girl featured in this photograph is a model and has no relation to the content of the article.