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Campaign Stories
  Acting on Pope Francis' call for inter-religious cooperation in the Middle East
  Lebanon: before and after displacement, through a Syrian refugee child's eyes
  Dialogue is the Solution in Syria, not War
  Displaced by conflict in Syria, refugee helps others
  Examining the role of women from a humanitarian perspective in response to the conflict in Syria
  Families flee Syria to protect their children
  In Syria conflict, persecution affects Muslims and Christians
  Jesuit priest: people of Homs hunger for normality
  Jesuit Refugee Service stands with Syria
  Jesuit Refugee Service Syria staff stand together in serving the displaced
  Jordan: accompaniment comes first for refugees
  Jordan: eat dust here or die in Syria
  Jordan: living in the shadow of Syria's crisis
  JRS in Iraq as winter imperils displaced families
  JRS urges Australia, U.S. to increase humanitarian intake
  Lebanon: educational boost for refugee children
  Lebanon: families from Syria seek safety, shelter
  Lebanon: JRS offers hope through education
  Lebanon: space for refugees from Syria to learn
  Lebanon: Syrian children need more than a traditional education
  Lebanon: Syrian refugee children counting on school
  Middle East: updates from JRS
  On the Anniversary of the War in Syria, JRS Calls for Renewed Attention
  Pope urges concrete help for refugees
  Syria: between fear of violence and the struggle to survive
  Syria: bringing families together
  Syria: daily life a struggle to survive
  Syria: amidst upheaval, JRS expands services
  Syria: enduring spirit remains despite the rubble
  Syria: five years on, time for diplomacy to deliver
  Syria: food & fuel shortages add to daily woes
  Syria: interfaith family volunteers in Aleppo
  Syria: JRS refugee center destroyed, our work continues
  Syria: let this fourth anniversary of the war be the last
  Syria: maintaining normalcy in Aleppo
  Syria: Refugees from Iraq on the sidelines of yet another conflict
  Syria: Restoring hope
  Syria: shelter and food difficult to find
  Syria: thousands more displaced by violence in Aleppo
  Syria: turning pain into their most powerful weapon
  Syria: urgent need for winter supplies
  Syria: violence in Damascus fuels hopelessness, fear
  Syria: When Hope Returns – Rama’s Story
  Syria: why people flee and why they need protection
  Syrian refugees face food cuts in Jordan, Lebanon
  Water is a precious gift in Syria
  Witnessing the hope and resilience of Syrians
Connect with us
Colin Gilbert with refugees in Amman. Colin returns to the U.S. from March 10 to April 10 to share his experiences in Jordan, particularly in light of the Syrian crisis, at an array of Jesuit universities, high schools and parishes. (Peter Balleis, S.J. — Jesuit Refugee Service)

(Amman) February 11, 2013 — [Schedule updated March 8] Colin Gilbert is soft-spoken, his voice an odd mix of accents from the different places he’s lived. The sprawling Middle Eastern capital of Amman, is a far cry from his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz. As Country Director for Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Jordan, Colin returns to the U.S. from March 10 to April 10 to share his experiences in Jordan, particularly in light of the Syrian crisis, at an array of Jesuit universities, high schools and parishes. 

The aim of Colin's visit is to increase awareness of JRS Jordan and the work JRS does, to deepen understanding about refugees’ lives and their precarious situation, and to garner support for our work in a variety of different ways — from encouraging volunteers to online donations.

Colin describes how he found himself in the Middle East, working for JRS, and how on a daily basis he strives to uphold the JRS mission of accompany, serve, advocate amongst his colleagues, and amongst the refugees we serve:

"I had just finished my first semester of teaching at a Jesuit high school in Southern California when I began hearing about the bombings in Gaza in early 2009. I had never been so deeply struck by reading international news as a helpless population incurred such immense suffering.

"After several years of accompanying and working with forcibly displaced populations from Latin America, the same desire that led me to accompany immigrants in El Salvador and Colombia was leaving me awake at night, envisioning being in the Middle East. As I returned to teaching, I couldn’t shake this tug at my heart to be in a part of the world where unjustified violence was leaving innocent civilians uprooted. 

"After several trips to the West Bank and Arabic studies, I arrived to Jordan in January of 2011, just as the Arab Spring swung into full force. I found myself working with a team of predominantly Iraqi refugees who were offering non-formal education and emergency assistance to Iraqis in Amman. 

"As the year progressed, we opened the doors of our education initiatives to Sudanese and Somali refugees, for whom there was very little international assistance. As the Syrian crisis unfolded we began accompanying Syrians and providing emergency assistance in Amman and the north of Jordan. We also initiated a higher education program for refugee populations of all nationalities in Jordan through the Jesuit Commons: Higher Education on the Margins initiative.

"Over a span of nine months I found myself shifting from oversight of one project, to oversight of three projects, and also assisting with back-up support for our programs in Syria.

"Our team now find ourselves overwhelmed daily as we seek to continue supporting the more than 30,000 Iraqi, Somali, Sudanese refugees in Jordan while also gearing up emergency assistance to the 300,000 Syrians who have entered the country in the past two years. In the month of January 2013 alone, there were more than 40,000 Syrians who entered Jordan.

"The needs are enormous and we find ourselves carefully discerning daily how to spend our energies and resources seeking to meet the new needs while not forgetting about the refugees who are not being mentioned in international news on a daily basis.

"Each day we come across people whose homes have been destroyed, whose siblings have been tortured and killed, whose education has been interrupted due to their school being bombed, whose children are getting sick because of lack of access to warm blankets.

"We cannot meet all their needs and it is frustrating. As a team we are learning, in light of immense needs and our limited resources, that we can and will continue to be with people and accompany them in times of suffering. 

"Although this response may be incomplete, it has empowering potential. As war rages in Syria, violence increases in Iraq, and Somalia and Darfur remain unsafe, we will continue to walk with refugees in Jordan and attempt to provide hope to their highly uncertain futures."---

The schedule of Colin Gilbert’s presentation, Accompanying Refugees During Times of Crisis in the Middle East: How Jesuit Refugee Service is Responding to the Unfolding Emergency is below. All events, except those at high schools, are open to the general public and are free of charge, except as noted.

Monday, March 11, 12:00 p.m.
Brophy College Preparatory — Summit on Human Dignity
Phoenix, Arizona

Wednesday, March 13
Xavier College Prep High School
Palm Desert, California

Thursday, March 14, 7:00 p.m.
Murphy Recital Hall, Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, California

Sunday, March 17, 10:00 a.m.
Sacred Heart Chapel Mass, Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, California

Tuesday, March 19, 11:30 a.m. [there is a fee to attend this event.]
Union League Club
Chicago, Illinois

Wednesday, March 20, 12:00 p.m.
University of San Francisco, McLaren Room 250 
San Francisco, California

Thursday, March 21, 12:00 p.m.
Bellarmine College Preparatory Justice Summit
San Jose, California

Tuesday, March 26, 12:00 p.m.
Georgetown University, Healy Hall — Riggs Library
Space is Limited; Registration Required. To Learn More and/or Register, please click here.
Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 27, 6 p.m.
Happy Hour Meet & Greet
One Lounge Kitchen & Cocktail Bar
1606 20th Street NW
No Registration Required; Open to the Public
Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, April 2, 7:00 p.m.
St. John Francis Regis Chapel, Regis University
Denver, Colorado

Wednesday, April 3, 7:00 p.m.
Loyola Parish
Denver, Colorado

For more information about Colin’s trip, please contact:

Clare Bonsignore
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

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United States of America