Archive for January, 2010

Jesuit Refugee Service in Haiti for the Long Haul says JRS/USA National Director

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Haiti Church
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Jesuits were in Haiti before the earthquake, and will be there long after the television network anchors load up their gear and head home.

That’s one point Father Kenneth Gavin, a New York Province Jesuit and director of the Washington-based Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS)/USA, wanted emphasized as he recounted the agency’s past, current and future efforts in what has become well-known as the poorest – and now earthquake-ravaged – country in the Western Hemisphere.

“We are going to be there for the long haul,” he said, noting that JRS, while coping with the current crisis is always seeking long-term solutions.

As generous-minded Americans wonder where to put their resources in assisting a crisis they see on their televisions played out every night, international aid experts caution that support should go to those agencies with a track record inside the country. JRS fits that description.

JRS has been dealing with refugee concerns along the Haitian border with the Dominican Republic for years. That connection has proven invaluable as the agency shifts gears to cope with an even greater crisis than even beleaguered Haiti is used to.

From the agency’s post in the Dominican border town of Dajabon, even before the earthquake, Father Gavin, a visitor to the region before the quake, noted how Haiti suffered.

“You cross the bridge into Haiti and you step into a country that has limited paved roads, little electricity, little potable water, and few jobs,” said Father Gavin. JRS had put its resources into building wells, a necessity to curtail disease from bad water, to creating small farming cooperatives, needed so that Haitians don’t feel a need to head into the Dominican Republic, where their labor is often exploited, or to the U.S., where traveling in rickety boats filled with refugees has long-presented a hazard.

In response to the current crisis, JRS is working through Jesuits in both Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. Jesuit Father Mario Serrano is coordinating truckloads of supplies going overland into Haiti from the Dominican Republic, bypassing the clogged airport runway in Port-au-Prince that Americans have seen on their television screens this week. Distribution of aid within Haiti is being coordinated by Father Kawas Francois, S.J.

Altogether, said Father Gavin, 17 Jesuits, supported by other religious communities and lay workers, are involved in relief efforts. They include Brother Jim Boynton, a Detroit Province Jesuit teacher, who arrived in Haiti in September. He’s been supported by Team Rubicon, an ad-hoc group of former U.S. military personnel who have brought their skills to the effort, as well as medical personnel from Chicago, at least some of whom were inspired by their Jesuit education.

Already JRS has raised more than $600,000 for Haitian relief. What the average person can do, said Father Gavin, is to provide more cash, which can be donated through www.jrsusa.org.

There is a human need to do more, to perhaps donate clothing and other articles that have some personal significance. Father Gavin cautioned to resist that temptation. “I understand the tension,” he said, “but it’s far better to put the money in the hands of relief agencies.” In that way, he said, resources will go directly to where they are needed, and donations will not be swamped by the high costs of transportation.

Hear more from Father Ken Gavin in the short video clip below:

National Jesuit News is urging people to give to the Jesuit organization Jesuit Refugee Service to help those in Haiti.

To support JRS/USA’s humanitarian response to the emergency needs of the Haitian people, please click here to be directed to their secure website and choose “Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.”

Or you may send a check to:

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
1016 16th Street NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

Checks should be made payable to “Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.”
Please clearly note “Haiti Earthquake Relief” in the memo field on the check.

National Jesuit News Streams from Mass for Life

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Students from 20 Jesuit schools gathered today to attend the Mass at St. Aloysius Church before moving out to the streets of Washington to be a part of the March for Life today. National Jesuit News was there and streamed these videos from the Mass and from the March.

Go to www.twitter.com/jesuitnews to follow our tweets or check out the navigation panel on the right for live feeds from our twitter stream.

To find out more about how the Jesuits are advocating for the rights of the unborn, please click on the image below.

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National Jesuit News Tweets from Today's March for Life in Washington, D.C.

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As students from 20 Jesuit schools gather today to attend the Mass at St. Aloysius Church before moving out to the streets of Washington to be a part of the March for Life today, National Jesuit News is there and will be tweeting live from the event and streaming video from the march.

Go to www.twitter.com/jesuitnews to follow our tweets or check out the navigation panel on the right for live feeds from our twitter stream.

To find out more about how the Jesuits are advocating for the rights of the unborn, please click on the image below.

standing-for-the-unborn

National Jesuit News Tweets from Today’s March for Life in Washington, D.C.

marchforlifeShare/Bookmark
As students from 20 Jesuit schools gather today to attend the Mass at St. Aloysius Church before moving out to the streets of Washington to be a part of the March for Life today, National Jesuit News is there and will be tweeting live from the event and streaming video from the march.

Go to www.twitter.com/jesuitnews to follow our tweets or check out the navigation panel on the right for live feeds from our twitter stream.

To find out more about how the Jesuits are advocating for the rights of the unborn, please click on the image below.

standing-for-the-unborn

Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Service Director Interviewed on Current Haitian Situation

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Haiti Water2

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Mario Serrano is director of the Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Service (JRMS) in Dominican Republic. With four other colleagues, he has crossed the border to travel to Puerto Príncipe in Haiti to see for himself the magnitude of the catastrophe and to detect the population´s most urgent needs. He was interviewed by a partner organization Entreculturas on the current situation in Haiti.

I am now in Haiti coordinating efforts together with Kawas and Miller, our Haitian Jesuit colleagues. My report on what we are doing is as follows:

• In Dominican Republic we have established relations with religious and civil society organizations to give a coordinated support. We have divided ourselves into several commissions (health, volunteer work, communication, relations with Haiti, reconstruction, contact with donors and donations) and we have based ourselves in five locations (Santo Domingo, Santiago, Da jabón, Elías Pina, Jimaní, Pedernales and Puerto Príncipe) where we organize and coordinate support, we assist the victims and gather relevant information.

• I have based myself in Puerto Príncipe, together with two other colleagues from Centro Bonó and Centro Poveda and we are here representing the network of civil social organizations of Dominican Republic and I coordinate work with the other Jesuits. It is my second trip and I am on my second day. I help with organization in channeling the aid coming in from Dominican Republic. We are still at the stage of responding to the emergency which means presence, nourishment, medicine, hygiene and a place to rest. We are directly working at eight points with victim camps. At the same time, we share the aid we get with other groups that come to us asking for collaboration. Slowly, we are improving organization to make aid more efficient. There are many emergency needs. In addition to the above mentioned, we need bathrooms, tents and vehicles for aid transportation. In the long run we will have to focus on a specific way to help and I think this should be education. We should help so that the children of Haiti may have good schools with good teachers.

I have many anecdotes to share with you, but I will tell you about one: we left Santo Domingo for Haiti and on the way we decided to ask the donation lorries, which that day were going to Barahona, to accompany us. We arrived at Jimaní, a village in the border with Haiti, we left a team with staff from Bonó and the Centro Poveda and we crossed the border with two big lorries with aid. We were accompanied by military security. We arrived at the Jesuit novitiate house at nightfall and we did not unload them for fear of the population´s reaction since we no longer had military protection…But we organized to have to police watching overnight.

Early next morning we unloaded and held a meeting to get organized. During the meeting many people started banging the doors asking for food. We stopped the meeting fearing the worst. We called the police but the people remained. The captain told us to give them a bottle of water and to ask them to come back in the afternoon. They accepted.

In the afternoon I went to see them. Our novitiate is at the entrance of where they live in very poor conditions and where many victims live. They understood that we needed time to organize distribution and we also understood that they should be our beneficiaries. I shared my fears with them and my feeling of insecurity and they told us that they would secure the area, get organized to receive the aid and they helped us to unload the lorries. I was really very happy with this process since I had a new understanding of the situation, concrete references of people, a new way of managing aid. It is important to integrate people in the process as much as possible. When they came banging on our door, I remember the face of Soucet, a very brave woman demanding food, angry and with a lot of courage. I remember my fear in front of so many people. Now I see friendly faces, people with whom to share and work for the same cause.Now we have a better protection than the one given by the military, we have the accompaniment of those we wanted to accompany and protect.

National Jesuit News is urging people to give to the Jesuit organization Jesuit Refugee Service to help those in Haiti.

To support JRS/USA’s humanitarian response to the emergency needs of the Haitian people, please click here to be directed to their secure website and choose “Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.”

Or you may send a check to:

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
1016 16th Street NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

Checks should be made payable to “Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.”
Please clearly note “Haiti Earthquake Relief” in the memo field on the check.