Archive for the ‘Refugee’ Category

Online Retreat Marks 30 Years of Jesuit Refugee Service

0001a Chapel window NairobiOn Tuesday, Jesuit Father Michael Evans, executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, announced a special online retreat coinciding with the 30th anniversary of  Jesuit Refugee Service’s founding on November 14th.  In a press release highlighting the upcoming anniversary, JRS/USA is featuring the online retreat to reinforce the connection of Ignatian Spirituality with the plight of refugees and forced migrants.

“Each day of this online retreat will offer the opportunity to reflect prayerfully on the situation of refugees via the lens of The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. By linking the Spiritual Exercises to the plight of refugees and vulnerable migrants, we believe that the retreat will provide an easy way for people to fuse spirituality and social justice into their daily life. During the next four weeks we invite you — day by day — into an experience of “prayerful storytelling” as we share with you the grace-filled stories of God’s powerful love for all of us.

As you progress through this retreat, God will direct you and touch your soul with love and challenge in a truly personal way. We trust that the graces of this retreat will renew us and transform us into the heart of Jesus, deepening our commitment to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people.”

For more information about the retreat, or for a direct link so you may participate in the online retreat, please visit: http://www.jrsusa.org/Retreat

Six Months after Earthquake, Jesuits say Situation in Haiti Remains a Humanitarian Crisis

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Six months after the earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, more than one million survivors continue to live in appalling conditions, with inadequate sanitation, limited access to services and food shortages, say the Jesuits who are working to provide humanitarian assistance.

Conditions in many of the nearly 1,400 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the capital, Port-au-Prince, are extremely critical. The conditions at the largest Jesuit Refugee Services’ (JRS) camp, Automeca, with a population of 12,000, are typical. Here, residents continue to live in shacks held up by rags and poles. There are no schools or electricity, sanitation is poor and the water barely drinkable. When heavy rain falls, garbage rushes through the camp.

For many years, JRS has had a grassroots presence in Haiti and has provided humanitarian assistance to displaced Haitians in both the Dominican Republic and along the Haitian border. JRS – Haiti is focusing its current relief efforts in the Port-au-Prince area, working in seven camps that serve the needs of more than 21,000 displaced people in and around the capital by providing emergency assistance, psychosocial support, and training to community leaders to manage camps and civil society organizations.

“Camp management and aid delivery structures should always include consultation and cooperation with the displaced people who are swiftly forming their own organizations to advocate for their own particular needs,” said JRS/USA Director Jesuit Father Kenneth J. Gavin. “More attention must be placed on supporting the food and relief needs for IDP recipient communities and people not living in camps so that moving to a camp is not the only way for people to receive minimal food, water, and livelihood assistance.”

At a meeting with JRS – Haiti on June 20, seven IDP camp leaders highlighted numerous concerns, including the lack of security, particularly in camps that don’t have electricity and lighting at night, which pose a particular threat to women and children.

The situation in unofficial camps is even worse. Throughout the city, unofficial camp residents receive little or no care from large aid organizations or international coordinating bodies; many have even been told leave the camps but have not been provided with alternative housing.

“JRS welcomes the moratorium on forced evictions issued by the Haitian government. Unfortunately, pressure from landowners on IDPs to evacuate the sites continues. Actions go so far as intermittent disconnection of the water supply, and refusals to allow the construction of more permanent shelters and street lighting. ,” said JRS – Haiti Director Jesuit Father Wismith Lazard. “The government needs to use its authority to protect camp residents from this kind of harassment, and put more effort into identifying suitable shelter.”

In the video below, Frs. Lazard and Kawas Francois, president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti, discuss the conditions in the camps in Haiti and the plans to open 17 Jesuit Fe y Alegria (Hope & Joy) schools in the next year in Haiti.

Jesuit Answers the Call in Haiti

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Jesuit Father Bill Johnson was in the Dominican Republic when the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12. Fr. Johnson is the director for pastoral care at the Institute of Latin American Concern (ILAC) of Creighton University located just outside of Santiago. ILAC is a Catholic, Ignatian-inspired, collaborative health care and educational organization offering service-learning and immersion experience opportunities in dental, medical, nursing, pharmacy, law, physical therapy and occupational therapy for undergraduate and high school students, and also to faculty-led groups, medical/surgical teams and other colleges in the rural Dominican Republic.

When the call went out for help in the days after the earthquake, Johnson answered it by offering his services as a translator and as a helper to the Creighton medical team assembled to come to Haiti to provide emergency medical care to the wounded and critically injured.

Jesuit Fr. Bill Johnson (center) poses with Jim Jalovec (left) and John Ward (right) in front of Javolec's helicopter as they deliver supplies during relief efforts in Haiti.

Jesuit Fr. Bill Johnson (center) poses with Jim Jalovec (right) and John Ward (left) in front of Jalovec's helicopter as they deliver supplies during relief efforts in Haiti.

Johnson experienced another tragedy in the days that followed the earthquake when his good friend, Jim Jalovec, was killed while providing help during the Haiti relief efforts. Jalovec had phoned Johnson immediately after the earthquake in Haiti to offer the services of his helicopter in the relief efforts. Good Samaritan Hospital in Jimaní, Dominican Republic, where Johnson and Creighton University’s medical teams were working, invited Jalovec and his pilot, John Ward, to come and fly doctors and medicine into Haiti. Three days into their rescue efforts, they died when their helicopter hit a mountain on the foggy night of Feb. 4. Johnson presided at Jalovec’s funeral in Chicago and Ward’s in Ft. Myers, Fla.

In memory of Jalovec, ILAC is selling “Show Your Goodness” t-shirts to help the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti. All profits will be sent to the Jesuit Refugee Service in Haiti to help children suffering from the earthquake. The shirts can be purchased by visiting the showyourgoodness.com website.

Johnson shared his reflections with nationaljesuitnews.com on his time helping at Good Samaritan hospital in the days following the earthquake. You can read his reflections and see his photos by clicking below.

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Jesuit Father General Visits Haiti

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Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolas, right, visits the JRS Haiti tent offices in Port au Prince with Jesuit Fr. Wismith Lazard of JRS Haiti, left. Between the two men are Jesuit Fr. Kawas Francois, in white shirt, and Jesuit Fr. Daniel Leblond. Fr. Francois is president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti and founding member of the National Committee for Reflection and Action, and Fr. LeBlond is the Provincial of French Canada. (Photo courtesy JRS/USA)

Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolas, right, visits the JRS Haiti tent offices in Port au Prince with Jesuit Fr. Wismith Lazard of JRS Haiti, left. Between the two men are Jesuit Fr. Kawas Francois, in white shirt, and Jesuit Fr. Daniel Leblond. Fr. Francois is president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti and founding member of the National Committee for Reflection and Action, and Fr. LeBlond is the Provincial of French Canada. (Photo courtesy JRS/USA)

Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolas visited the Haitian capital Thursday to see the work Jesuits have been doing to as they accompany and serve the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating January 12 earthquake.

Fr. Nicolas, the leader of the Society of Jesus, visited the Jesuit novitiate in the Tabarre neighborhood of Port au Prince, where he met with staff of Jesuit Refugee Service Haiti and Fe y Alegria. Both organizations have set up offices in tents on the novitiate grounds, and staff and volunteers are also living in tents on the grounds.

For many years Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has had a grassroots presence in Haiti and has provided humanitarian assistance to displaced Haitians in both the Dominican Republic and along the Haitian border. In addition, JRS has responded to the needs of Haitians following successive natural disasters, a food crisis, and repeated hurricanes.

While continuing to maintain its presence along the Northeastern border, JRS Haiti is focusing its current relief efforts in the Port-au-Prince area, working in seven camps that serve the needs of more than 21,000 displaced people in and around the capital. After visiting with staff and holding Mass, Fr. Nicolas met with and thanked JRS staff at the Automeca camp for people displaced by the earthquake in Port au Prince.

Jesuit Conference President Fr. Thomas Smolich on Haitian Earthquake Relief Efforts

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In this short video clip, Jesuit Father Thomas Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States, talks of the Jesuits’ efforts in Haiti to provide earthquake relief. Through the mobilization of the Society of Jesus’ missionary arm, Jesuit Refugee Service, the Jesuits are responding to God’s call to provide aid to the suffering and to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti during their time of need.

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.