Jesuit Refugee Service/USA’s National Director Jesuit Fr. Ken Gavin was on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday to discuss how outsiders can help communities, like those in Haiti after January’s devastating earthquake, in crisis. Some volunteers rushed to Port-au-Prince to help with no idea how to provide food, water and shelter for themselves. When is it appropriate for outsiders to help and when is that better left to locals? What’s the goal? How long do you stay?
Having recently returned from Haiti, Fr. Gavin discussed these issues and explained JRS’s mission of accompaniment:
Father Gavin on NPR: “When we talk about our work in Jesuit Refugee Service, we say that what we do is accompany, serve and advocate or defend the rights of refugees or forcibly displaced people. And that term, accompaniment, as you say, Neal, is incredibly important, because I see it as the envelope out of which all our service and all our advocacy – however important they are – flow from that sense of accompaniment.
And what we mean by that, I think simply, is to be close to the people, to be in solidarity with them, to step into their shoes, to experience their hopes and losses. Our sense of accompaniment comes from that spark of the divine that we recognize in every human person. It comes from our believing that even in the greatest tragedies like Haiti, that our God stands present with people in their suffering.”
To hear Fr. Gavin on the Talk of the Nation program, you can listen from NPR’s website or download the podcast. Fr. Gavin was interviewed by National Jesuit News before his trip to Haiti, you can view his video interview here.
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.