Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Refugee Service’

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 Refugee Service Working to Improve Camps, Provide Education in Haiti

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Two of the leading Jesuits involved in Haitian earthquake relief efforts visited Washington last week to meet with members of non-governmental organizations, Congressional staff and State Department personnel: Fr. Kawas Francois, S.J., president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti and founding member of the National Committee for Reflection and Action and Fr. Wismith Lazard, S.J., director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Haiti.

“The situation in Haiti is very difficult now. Before the earthquake, the situation was bad. Now, the situation is worse. We have a lot of unemployment, that’s a real problem. Many children can’t go to school, because so many schools collapsed in the earthquake-affected areas,” said Fr. Kawas Francois, S.J.

The Jesuit community in Haiti organized the National Committee for Reflection and Action (Cellule de Refexion et d’Action Nationale  – CRAN), composed of Jesuits and members of Haitian civil society who work together on an ongoing basis to accompany the Haitian people, their leaders, and the international community in their efforts to rebuild Haiti.

More than 80% of the population in the earthquake affected areas still live in camps. The situation is characterized by extremely high rates of unemployment and poor sanitation in the camps.

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.

For more information on Jesuit Refugee Service’s work in Haiti, or how you can help, please visit: http://www.jrsusa.org

Jesuit Father Ken Gavin, Director of JRS/USA, Speaks with NPR on Outreach to Haiti

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Jesuit Fr. Ken Gavin, Executive Director of JRS/USA and Fr. Perard Monestime, Director of the JRS project in Haiti, discuss options for water project.

Jesuit Fr. Ken Gavin, Executive Director of JRS/USA and Fr. Perard Monestime, Director of the JRS project in Haiti, discuss options for water project.

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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.


Jesuit Discusses the Needs of Deported Migrants


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Jesuit Fr. Sean Carroll, the Executive Director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) discusses how the KBI responds to the needs of deported migrants, who are often deported far from family and friends and who may have suffered physical or emotional trauma, in this video clip from the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. Fr. Carroll spoke during a one-day conference, Crisis at our Borders: The Human Reality Behind the Immigration Debate.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Jesuit Conference of the United States, Georgetown University’s Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service, the Institute for the Study of International Migration, and the Woodstock Theological Center hosted the conference in October, 2009 on the Georgetown campus in Washington, D.C.

A series of panel discussions at the conference aimed to put a human face on the migrant experience by sharing personal narratives of individuals crossing the border; explored political/legal, economic, ethical and law enforcement perspectives on the current immigration system; made the case for policy changes, discussed ways in which the current system is failing immigrants and our communities. It also explored the prospects for immigration reform, discussed the key players in the process and talked about what such reform may look like.

Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Service Director Interviewed on Current Haitian Situation

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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.