2016 Global Symposium – Participant Reflections



Our Journey to “Overcoming Social Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness”

Submission from: Beatrice Mgaya, Social Action Trust Fund, Tanzania 

One of the objectives of the Symposium for 2016 was to improve collective understanding of the costs of social isolation and the benefits of social connectedness through sharing best practices and lessons learnt throughout the world.

As a participant from Africa, I had come with a pre-conceived notion that social isolation was rampant in our continent due to the social, cultural and colonial practices. Alas! This was not the case as more unfolding stories from fellow participants proved that the issue was prevalent in their countries too. The culmination of it all was my realisation that this was a Global issue. That was my “AHA Moment”; it provided me a moment to reflect and understand that we’re one regardless of colour, gender, religion, tribes and geographical boundaries. Therefore we can talk one language and build a movement to overcome the social isolation, just like what myBrothers and Sisters from South Africa refer to as UBUNTU. The world will be much lighter if we break the barriers between us.


My organization is struggling to support children born with Albinism, who have been abandoned at the centres, to avert from brutal killings exercised by people with ill-beliefs. These poor kids are deprived of their right to be raised in family set-ups, some of them from less than a year old. The isolation exercised on these vulnerable groups is highly unacceptable and it amounts from the place they live, the schools they attend, the stigma and the love they miss as members of our communities.

It is time we shine a light through education to the respective communities to stop these inhuman practices in a collective manner. Quoting words from Kim Samuel’s keynote speech, “overcoming social isolation is always done with and not for”.

Surely, a windmill can light up a home.  But when those windmills are connected to each other… connected to a grid… they can light up the world”.


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