Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Refugee Service’
The vast majority of Afghans want peace, according to Jesuit Father Stan Fernandes, an Indian Jesuit who directs the Jesuit Refugee Service in the strife-torn nation.
“The rebels are about 10,000, but attract the attention of the international community,” he told the Fides news agency. “Our mission is to give voice and hope to 99.9% of the Afghan population, who struggle every day with all their heart to go forward and to build a better tomorrow.”
JRS has been working in Afghanistan since 2005, when a team of Indian Jesuits started programs in the field of education: today in the “Technical High School” in Herat, there are 600 students taking courses in electricity, electronics, construction, trade. Since 2006, the religious also teach English, computer science, biology and physics to more than 3,000 university students in Herat, Bamiyan and Kabul.
“Children and young people are tired of war and very few of them have the opportunity to go to school,” he added. Jesuits are now teaching 600 students at a technical high school in Heart, 3,000 university students in Herat, Bamiyan, and Kabul, and 200 elementary school students who are refugees in Sohadat.
The Kakuma Refugee Camp on the Kenyan border of southern Sudan was founded in 1991 for approximately 25,000 former child soldiers from Sudan, often known as the “lost boys.” Within this city of refugees sits the Safe Haven, an initiative of the Jesuit Refugee Service.
Currently beyond capacity, the Safe Haven serves a vulnerable population – unaccompanied women and children, many of whom are victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA director Jesuit Father Michael Evans, visited this work in March 2010, reflecting on his visit and experiences for Jesuit Refugee Service’s Voices.
“The camp is now bursting with 85,000 refugees living there, and a Kakuma II is being planned — and the JRS extended team has grown to sixteen. Along with continued pastoral care, dozens of trauma counselors have been trained over the years. However, the new work now includes a safe house for vulnerable women and children; the care of refugees with physical, mental, and emotional challenges; and outreach to those who cannot make it to the JRS Centers.”
On 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 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 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.
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.