Benita King

Benita King YLIP Intern


I interned with the LHR’s RMRP. Living and working in Durban in this capacity was life-changing. I met with clients on a daily basis who came from predominantly Central, East, and Southern Africa. Their stories of survival were devastating, inspiring, terrorizing, humbling, and moving, all at once. If there is a silver lining to take away from the suffering faced by refugees, it is that in the journey for survival, people often come together in solidarity to embrace others like brothers and sisters they never previously knew. Working directly with clients to assess their claims for asylum was analytical, legal, emotional, fascinating, and haunting, overcoming barriers of language, culture, and trauma. Advocating for human rights in this light underscored the perspective that each day we may live on and come to build connections with others is a gift, particularly given the uncertainty of those who await the fate of their claims and evolving socio-political landscapes in their home countries, many years down the line.

Living, learning, and growing in the diversely rich rainbow nation, which they dub South Africa, was impactful in ways beyond which I could have ever known. Being here some two decades after the end of Apartheid was a unique era to experience the progressive changes that society uptakes, especially with regard to race relations and the attempted redistribution of economic opportunities. I must also mention the beauty of friendships formed with locals. Maya Angelou loved to say that we may forget what people said or did to us, but we never forget how they made us feel. I carry this spirit with me always, and in reflection on the mutuality of presence we have in each others' lives, every place we go.