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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
  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 Jordan director visits U.S. universities, parishes
  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
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The staff of Jesuit Refugee Service stand both with one another, and with the displaced of Syria. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

(Beirut) November 20, 2016 — The war in Syria has grabbed world headlines for almost six years now; the violence has killed and wounded thousands; millions have been made homeless: most of them displaced within Syria itself,  while others have been forced to seek refuge in another country. Many towns and cities of Syria are destroyed beyond recognition.

In the face of hate and violence, pain and suffering, there are several ordinary citizens who have silently and often heroically reached out to serve their less fortunate sisters and brothers. Some of these silent heroes work with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria. Braving all odds, they serve, accompany and advocate for those more affected than them. 

A series of ‘Leadership Workshops’ have been organized by Fr. Fouad Nakhla S.J., the JRS Syria Country Director. These residential workshops spread over three to four days, are meant for the Core Teams (approx. 17 members in one team) from each of the project areas; they are facilitated by Ms. Sandra Chaoul, a professional leadership coach, and a Jesuit, Fr. Jack Germanos. The training is intense; but the feed-back from the participants who have completed the training is very positive.

The Core Team (CT) from Damascus and the Country Office had their trainings in October. The CT from Aleppo finished theirs on November 15th and the CT from Homs would begin theirs late evening on the 16th, both in Sednaya, a historic town about 25 kilometers from Damascus.

Fr. Fouad had a brainwave: to bring all the teams together for a reunion on November 16. JRS celebrates its ‘Foundation Day’ on November 14th every year — so it was indeed an ideal day to celebrate the origins, the spirit, the vision and the mission with all those who have been an integral part of the JRS family here in Syria.

It was indeed a historic and memorable day for 60 JRS family members from Aleppo, Homs and Damascus (urban and rural). Many of them were meeting for the first time, but by the end of the day they bonded with one another, as though they knew each other even before the thirty-six years since the foundation of JRS. For several, temporarily forgetting the violence and suffering, which they encounter daily was in fact a soothing balm.

Fr. Fouad shared with the group the vision and values of JRS and the importance of the day; a meaningful film on Fr. Pedro Arrupe and JRS helped set the tone for all; an enjoyable ice-breaking session brought the participants closer together. A powerful TED TALKS film, very animated group sharing and an Anniversary Cake “Walking with Refugees,” all helped to deepen the bonds and to strengthen the commitment. 

However, the great spirit and togetherness of the JRS Syria Teams was manifested in one single act; someone suggested ‘why don’t we do a human collage which spell out the JRS letters?’ And before one could bat an eye the members came together and very spontaneously formed the letters ‘JRS.’ 

Certainly an act of togetherness and pride of belonging to the JRS family.

by Fr Cedric Prakash S.J.
Jesuit Refugee Service Middle East and North Africa

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