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Voices from Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Welcome to Voices at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. Here you can read first-hand accounts from refugees and forcibly displaced persons, as well as from staff and volunteers as they reflect upon their accompaniment of and service to refugees and forced migrants.
JRS pastoral care in the Dominican Republic
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
(Washington, D.C.) March 26, 2014 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Mission & Identity Coordinator Fr. Kevin White S.J. travelled to the Dominican Republic from March 6-14 to see first-hand the pastoral work the Catholic Church is doing in her accompaniment of Haitian immigrants living in rural areas of high poverty while toiling in the country’s vast sugar cane fields.
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Malawi refugee asks: Imagine yourself, a refugee
Monday, December 09, 2013
(Dzaleka, Malawi) December 9, 2013 — "I'm trying to write and perform for change, I'm trying to change how locals perceive refugees," said Trésor, a graduate of the Performing Arts course with Jesuit Commons: Higher Education on the Margins and Jesuit Refugee Service. His poem is a message: Trésor invites all people to imagine themselves in the life of a refugee.
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Panama: Refugee from Colombia lives with hope
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
(Panama City) November 19, 2013 – This story told by Julián, a 14-year old Colombian refugee, to the staff of Jesuit Refugee Service in Panama, is an excerpt of his family's harsh journey from the Colombian border to Panama City. While this happy ending is not common for refugees, it demonstrates that crossing borders is often the only life-saving possibility for people fleeing persecution.
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Jordan: an arduous and perilous journey to safety
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
(Amman) October 16, 2013 — Jesuit Refugee Service works in Jordan with refugees from Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia. Here, Mohsen, a 26-year-old refugee from Syria, shares his story about his flight from his home to safety in Jordan. "A month before the conflict broke out I had got engaged... We never would have guessed how difficult our engagement would be."
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Devoted Syrian father places education above all
Thursday, October 10, 2013
(Beirut) October 10, 2013 – Throughout my time working for Jesuit Refugee Service in Kafar Zabad, I have encountered many inspiring and resilient families and children. People who have been able to place the needs of others ahead of their own. One such person was a Syrian father whose dedication towards his daughter touched me deeply. Notwithstanding his own struggle to get by, he put the education of his daughter, her future, first.
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Kenya: Higher education delivers a learning experience
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
(Kakuma, Kenya) September 18, 2013 — Liz Lock, the Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins Coordinator at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, shares some of her personal experiences working with students at the camp in this story and video. There are about 120,000 refugees at Kakuma, from a dozen different countries. Jesuit Refugee Service has worked with refugees in the camp since 1994.
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Accompanying asylum seekers on Christmas Island
Friday, August 23, 2013
(Christmas Island, Australia) August 23, 2013 — Jesuit Refugee Service pastoral care worker Sr Dorothy Bayliss, a Sister of Charity and skilled midwife and nurse, has spent 50 years working in developing countries. Often the only pastoral care worker on Christmas Island, she accompanies people living in the camps, talks to them, listens, sits with them as they cry, helps them with simple requests. Here she shares her experiences.
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Freedom from fear in Colombia
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
(Cúcuta, Colombia) August 21, 2013 — Concepción was living in the area around the Catatumbo river in northeast Colombia when suddenly she and her family found themselves caught up in the violence. Threats and persecution forced them to leave their home and to go to the city of Cúcuta, on the border with Venezuela. But the worst was yet to come: Concepción's son disappeared on his way to work on a farm.
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Shared moments as two worlds meet in Chad
Sunday, August 18, 2013
(Goz Beida, Chad) August 18, 2013 — In September 2011, I arrived in Goz Beida, in eastern Chad, to coordinate a Jesuit Refugee Service project supporting primary schools for displaced children. That I was in a Muslim country soon became clear.
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Kenya: Opening opportunities through education
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
(Kakuma, Kenya) August 6, 2013 — If you had asked me a month ago what I was walking into when I interned with Jesuit Refugee Service and the Jesuit Commons Higher Education at the Margins program here at Kakuma refugee camp, I honestly could not tell you what I expected, writes Virginia Tech University student Allison Laclede. Read her reflections here.
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Church welcomes urban refugees in Nairobi
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
(Nairobi) July 16, 2013 — "People come and knock, and we live according to the Gospel, because in those refugees — according to my own understanding — is Christ. I see Christ in those who are refugees in our country. We don't want to segregate them, we want to bring them into our homes, into our church," says Fr. James Karanja of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
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Podcast: Jesuit Refugee Service Jordan
Friday, June 07, 2013
(Washington, D.C.) June 7, 2013 — In today's audio edition of The Refugee Voice we'll hear from Colin Gilbert, the country director for Jesuit Refugee Service in Jordan. As the Syrian crisis unfolded, JRS Jordan began accompanying Syrians and providing emergency assistance in Amman and the north of Jordan.
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Thailand: Heading home after 2,911 days in detention
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
(Bangkok) June 26, 2013 — Nearly eight years ago, Mariya, an undocumented Indonesian woman, was arrested and detained in southern Thailand after being found without a valid visa or passport. She was transferred to the Bangkok Immigration Detention Centre, where Jesuit Refugee Service Thailand works to provide health care, legal aid, and return and release for detainees.
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South Sudan: JRS accompanies teachers in Yambio
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
(Yambio) June 19, 2013 — During a Jesuit Refugee Service visit to a nursery school, we learned some of the teachers did not have a formal training in early childhood education. The teachers shared their challenges with us, and I was motivated to share my experience in teaching as a means to support the teachers.
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India: our journey in Tamil Nadu
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
(New Delhi) June 12, 2013 — At the height of Sri Lanka's civil conflict in 2009, 280,000 people were living in India's refugee camps. Today, the number has decreased to 67,000. While some families have chosen to return, many others believe it is still not safe. Jesuit Refugee Service has worked with refugees from Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu since 1990.
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Mother's Day Reflection
Sunday, May 12, 2013
(Washington, D.C.) May 12, 2013 — On this Mother's Day, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA shares the story of a refugee mother in Panama. We honor the millions of refugee mothers who have the courage to flee to protect their families, who fight for their families as they seek refuge in sometimes-hostile countries, and who never, ever give up.
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Syria: family mornings in Damascus
Monday, May 06, 2013
(Damascus) May 5, 2013 – A first-person reflection from a volunteer on the Jesuit Refugee Service Damascus team: How lovely is a meeting between human beings, a meeting in which we desire to show our love and feelings towards each other. I felt something similar to this when I met the families at the JRS St. Albert Hurtado House. ... I felt as if we had known each other for a long time.
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Seeking asylum, refugee finds hopeless detention
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
(Panama City) March 19, 2013 — Last Thursday afternoon we visited the Migrant Detention Center here in Panama’s capital. On our way, we passed a sign in a front yard near the center that said “No to the Migrant Jail.” With a less forthright frame, the government of Panama often refers to the Detention Center as an albergue — a shelter for the 91 men in detention.
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International Women's Day: Colombian refugee in Ecuador
Friday, March 08, 2013
(Quito) March 8 2013 — What I miss most about Colombia is the freedom. I'm very happy in Ecuador, but freedom is how you feel in your own country, to move around, work ... send your children to see family members, take them out for a walk. I'm happy in Ecuador at the moment, here you can live a quiet life, in peace: here there is no war.
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Accompanying Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
(Jimaní, Dominican Republic) February 19, 2013 — Along with Jerpin, the Project Coordinator of the Jimaní office, and Salomon, the pastor of a local church, I attended a meeting last week of one of nine Haitian migrant groups accompanied by Jesuit Migration Service here in the Dominican Republic.
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Turkey: ‘what we can do, we do’
Sunday, February 17, 2013
(Ankara, Turkey) February 17, 2013 — Currently two volunteers at Jesuit Refugee Service here in the capital of Turkey are preparing an English language program for the needs of refugees who will shortly be resettled. The program is essential to meet the needs of the refugees in first their first days upon arrival to their new homes.
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Turkey: Volunteers find ‘service is love’
Friday, February 15, 2013
(Ankara, Turkey) February 15, 2013 — Jesuit Refugee Service in Ankara owes a debt of gratitude to 20 expat volunteers who on a regular basis volunteer their time and donate items to the JRS project. In the last month alone, JRS received almost 200 brand new blankets and 80 jackets. The response to a call for two wheelchairs was answered within two hours.
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Jordan: finding peace and home amidst chaos
Monday, February 25, 2013
(Amman) February 25, 2013 – Giulia El Dardiry spent time with Jesuit Refugee Service Jordan in 2012, while working with Iraqi refugees for her PhD dissertation in Anthropology. She is a student at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She shares her experiences in Jordan with us in this reflection.
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Uganda: amazing experience at JRS class
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
(Kampala) February 13, 2013 — There is so much in the world that requires human attention, understanding and patience. The English class of 2012, part of the Jesuit Refugee Service Urban Refugee Project in Kampala, Uganda, had 166 learners including children and adults. One could see the eagerness on their faces and the anxiety of learning a new language.
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Thailand: voices from the factory
Thursday, January 17, 2013
(Mae Sot, Thailand) January 17, 2013 – Thailand is home to hundreds of thousands of Burmese migrant workers, more than 100,000 of whom work in Mae Sot's factories. Jesuit Refugee Service aims to provide durable solutions for this population, by establishing sustainable livelihood and income generating activities and working to ensure equal opportunities for men and women.
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Ubuntu — Compassion for humanity
Monday, January 14, 2013
(January 14, 2012) Kakuma, Kenya — The work of Jesuit Refugee Service staff in their delivery of the psychosocial and education programs here would not be nearly so effective without the invaluable help of refugee volunteers, known as ‘incentive staff.' More than 200 volunteers have been trained by JRS to provide support to their fellow refugees in education, counseling and alternative healing.
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Colombia: life is stronger than death
Monday, December 31, 2012
(Buenaventura, Colombia) December 31, 2012 — Today this coastal city is a battleground for various armed groups. However, it has also been a place of renewal for black communities, a space earned by the sweat of men and women who sailed the long rivers and carved out a living space in semi-harmony with the jungle, wresting ground from the mangrove swamps to build entire settlements.
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Afghanistan: uncertain but hopeful
Saturday, December 29, 2012
(Bamyan, Afghanistan) December 29, 2012 —Jestin Anthony S.J., a Jesuit in formation in India, writes about his experiences managing education programs in several schools in Afghanistan. "My interaction with the students helps me to see reality from their point of view. Young people in Bamyan really want to study and progress in life, their avid interest in class makes this clear. They are tired of war."
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Kenya: The meaning of food
Monday, November 12, 2012
(Nairobi) November 12, 2012 — During an internship with Jesuit Refugee Service, David Mauldin, a student at The Catholic University of America, discovered when food is seen simply as something to fill the belly, it soon appears to be unsustainable. But, the meaning of food lies not solely in the physical aspect, but also in its social, emotional and psychological impact.
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Jordan: when education is more than just learning
Friday, October 26, 2012
(Amman) October 26, 2012 — For eight months Grace Benton volunteered with Jesuit Refugee Service in Jordan as part of a team trying to offer refugees and their children the support they need to build a future. As she learned, the results were about more than learning curricular subjects, they were about building community and making refugees safer.
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Ethiopia: Jesuit Refugee Service could sense my grief
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
(Addis Ababa) October 23, 2012 — Paul, a refugee from Somalia who fled seeking a safer life only to find more trouble on the road to safety, shares with us his journey. Now living in the Ethiopian capital, Paul has found some measure of peace from the Jesuit Refugee Service Emergency Needs Program in Addis Ababa.
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Reflections of a chaplain in a federal detention center
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
(Washington, D.C. ) October 10, 2012 — After seven years as a chaplain for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA at the federal detention center in El Paso, Texas, Sister Beatrice Costagliola has retired. Shortly after stepping down from her position in El Paso, Sr. Beatrice shared with us some of her journey.
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Kenya: A song from Eastleigh
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
(Nairobi) September 26, 2012 – Travis Barnwell, a Masters in Social Work student from the Catholic University of America, spent three months working with a Jesuit Refugee Service social worker on the Urban Emergency Programme team in Nairobi, Kenya. Travis shares a reflection of his experiences here.
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Refugee finds peace in Kentucky
Friday, September 07, 2012
(Nairobi) September 7, 2012 – Jamal, a refugee from Saudi Arabia shared with JRS Eastern Africa his story: from marginalized outsider in Saudi Arabia to danger in Somalia to urban refugee in Kenya to resettlement in the U.S. "I now live in Louisville, Kentucky, in the USA, and my life has turned around dramatically. Jesuit Refugee Service helped me greatly along the way and I wanted to tell my story."
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Among refugees, my heart found a home
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) July 24, 2012 — Fr. Gary Smith, S.J., author of 'They Come Back Singing: Finding God with the Refugees,' has served refugees as a member of Jesuit Refugee Service since the year 2000. Here he shares some of his thoughts as he prepared to leave his most recent assignment with JRS last month.
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Ethiopia: Still going strong
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
(Dollo Ado) June 6, 2012 —Sofia (not her real name) is a Somali refugee living in Melkadida Refugee Camp in the Dollo Ado district of southeast Ethiopia. Like many other refugees here, she is faced with a mountain of challenges. A mother of six children, life does not come easy for her, and this is compounded by the fact that she recently lost her husband.
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Reflection: A Return to Africa, Part Two
Monday, May 28, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) May 28, 2012 — Our visit to Jesuit Refugee Service teams and projects in South Sudan was made all the more poignant and urgent as the tensions between Sudan and South Sudan heated up yet again. A sense that all out mobilization — and renewed displacement — could become a reality was in the air.
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Reflection: A Return to Africa, Part One
Thursday, May 24, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) May 24, 2012 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA National Director Fr. Mike Evans, S.J., writes that he has just completed an emotionally moving visit to Jesuit Refugee Service projects in Kenya and South Sudan. In some cases, projects are new; in others, the projects are either on-going or in the process of being completed and handed over to new partners.
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Colombia: On Assignment in Buenaventura
Monday, May 21, 2012
(Buenaventura, Colombia) May 21, 2012 — Between the Western-most range of the Colombian Andes and the Pacific Ocean in the Department of Valle de Cauca lays the city Buenaventura — Colombia’s principal port city and one of its deadliest. The city has received massive numbers of displaced Colombians fleeing the nearly 50-year-long armed conflict.
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Ethiopia: recreation eases difficulty of camp life
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
(Dollo Ado, Ethiopia) April 24, 2012 – Abraham Alemis, JRS Youth Program Coordinator at Dollo Ado, shares his experience working with refugees from Somalia. He has learned that activities such as volleyball, drama and music are an engaging means of transformation, and help refugees on their quest for peace.
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South Sudan: A role model for students and teachers
Monday, April 16, 2012
(Nimule, South Sudan) April 16, 2012 — Esther is a role model for her community. A secondary education teacher of commerce and accounting at Fulla Secondary School, Nimule, and a married mother of three children, she exudes happiness, confidence and professionalism. However, as a former refugee, the journey to this point has not been easy; she attributes her success to the support of Jesuit Refugee Service from 2000 to 2011.
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Ethiopia: laughing and learning in Dollo Ado
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
(Dollo Ado, Ethiopia) March 21, 2012 – Last year, in August 2011, the children in Melkadida Refugee Camp were struggling to survive. They were on the verge of death. I witnessed their agony and I saw the many pits in graveyards prepared in advance. Now, six months later, life is different and I am happy to watch them playing, dancing, laughing and learning.
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Kenya: Christmas in Kakuma
Monday, March 05, 2012
(Kakuma, Kenya) March 5, 2012 — Fr. Gary Smith, S.J., Jesuit Refugee Service Pastoral Coordinator at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, shares a reflection of Christmas in the camp, which is home to more than 85,000 refugees from several countries throughout Africa.
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South Sudan: On Christmas Eve in Palwar
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
(Lobone, South Sudan) February 28, 2012 — Every Christmas, a number of Jesuit Refugee Service staff members volunteer to remain at work over the holiday period in order to keep the projects operating efficiently. Fr. Richard O’Dwyer, S.J., Project Director for the JRS Lobone project in South Sudan, reflects on what this experience meant for him during Christmas 2011.
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31 years of accompaniment, service and advocacy
Monday, November 14, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) November 14, 2011 — JRS, an organization that began as primarily a pastoral response to a particular population now finds itself an international NGO providing professional services across multiple faiths and cultures, and seeking for grants to fund schools and disaster relief projects.
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Kenya: Gary Smith reflection from Kakuma
Friday, October 28, 2011
(Kakuma, Kenya) October 28, 2011 — Fr. Gary Smith, S.J. writes from Kakuma refugee camp, sharing his latest reflections about his pastoral accompaniment at the sprawling home to more than 85,000 refugees. “I am simultaneously a veteran and rookie in this world of refugees with all the confidence and terror that those two appellations evoke.”
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Thailand: Preparing for resettlement
Thursday, September 08, 2011
(Bangkok) September 9, 2011 – "I won’t believe I am truly leaving until I am sitting on the plane," Az said, just days before leaving Thailand in July for resettlement in the United States. His trepidation is understandable. After fleeing Pakistan nearly three years ago Az Bhatti has been waiting for something concrete.
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Video: Refugee students from Darfur
Friday, August 26, 2011
(Goz Beida, Chad) August 26, 2011 — Student refugees from Darfur attending a Jesuit Refugee Service school at Djabal Refugee Camp in eastern Chad talk about their hopes for the future. Jesuit Refugee Service built the secondary school in eastern Chad with a grant from the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
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UN and NGOs plan the road ahead
Friday, August 05, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) August 5, 2011 — The theme of this year’s consultations between UNHCR and the Non-Governmental Organization community, “60 Years of Partnership – The Road Ahead,” highlights the dual purpose served by the meeting, first to examine past achievements and areas in need of improvement, and then to plan for future initiatives.
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They Come Back Singing: Reflections on Safe Return and Resettlement
Thursday, July 28, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) July 28, 2011 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA National Director Fr. Michael Evans, S.J. reflects on a powerful journey to the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where two primary schools built by Jesuit Refugee Service Southern Africa were inaugurated.
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Seeking a bright future for children
Thursday, July 14, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) July 14, 2011 — Ester and her family fled the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo eight years ago and eventually migrated to Johannesburg. Her three children, 11, eight and five, are now attending a private school in South Africa after encountering endless difficulties at public schools. The children have hemophilia, a bleeding disorder that slows the blood clotting process.
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International Director reflects on World Refugee Day
Monday, June 20, 2011
(Masisi, DRC) June 20, 2011 — This year's World Refugee Day commemorates the 60th anniversary of the 1951 UN refugee convention in Geneva. This document was truly ground-breaking in its support for the rights of refugees, as well as its assertion of the international community's responsibility to care for refugee populations.
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Kenya: pastoral care among refugees in Kakuma
Saturday, June 18, 2011
(Kakuma, Kenya) June 15, 2011 — Fr. Gary Smith, S.J. notes that in the Kakuma refugee camp, with all of its cultures and languages and its hopes and disappointments, the experience of the pastoral arm of JRS is one of contrasts: small group sharing and booming liturgies and participating in both the sadness and joy of many hearts.
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Reflections on the Governance of JRS
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) June 14, 2011 — I have recently returned from spending three weeks at Jesuit Refugee Service headquarters. Because the work with refugees, internally displaced people and migrants/detainees is a global problem, the response from JRS must also be one of a similar nature. There are ten JRS regions and JRS/USA has a strong relationship with all of them.
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Ethiopia: Fleeing pain and hopelessness
Monday, June 13, 2011
(Addis Ababa) June 13, 2011 — Hawa and her four children, who range in age from four to 12, are but one family of an estimated 160,000 undocumented Somali refugees and asylum seekers living in Addis. Like many of them she fled war-torn Somalia in search of safety. Here, she shares the traumatizing experiences that made her flee her home country.
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Finding a future in South Africa
Monday, May 23, 2011
(Pretoria) May 23, 2010 — The Income Generating Activities office of Jesuit Refugee Service South Africa helps refugees by providing small business grants, vocational skills training and assistance with transferring educational qualifications from the refugee's country of origin to the South African system.
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Lost Boys of Sudan raise awareness in Ohio
Friday, May 13, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) May 13, 2011 — Recently I had the opportunity to join St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland for Refugee Awareness Day. Two Sudanese 'Lost Boys' joined us for the event and shared their journeys with students. As both men humbly offered their experiences of fleeing home at the mere ages of five and nine years old, I noticed the students’ body language change.
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Accompanying refugees in Kenya and Sudan
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) April 5, 2011 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA National Director Fr. Michael A. Evans, S.J. shares his reflections of a "very powerful, moving visit" to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya and several sites throughout Southern Sudan.
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Colombian refugees face stark choices
Saturday, March 19, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) March 18, 2011 — Prospects for local integration in cities and towns in the region surrounding Colombia have become so grim for refugees from that troubled country that they consider returning to possible death at the hands of their persecutors over the continued neglect and assaults on human dignity they suffer in their countries of refuge.
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Serving others at the Kino Border Initiative
Friday, March 11, 2011
(Nogales, Mexico) March 11, 2011 — "Thank God that we have many people in both Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, and Nogales, Ariz., who are committed to this service of migrants," says Sr. Lorena Leyva. "These volunteers are involved in serving food, preparing meals at home and taking them to the KBI's dining facility. Others prepare the meals and they are delighted to receive a thank you, a smile and a hug from the migrants."
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God knocked on my door again
Thursday, March 03, 2011
(Nogales, Mexico) March 3, 2011 — I felt the call to be where life was leading me, where the God of the poor has a compassionate and softened heart that hurts because of the pain of those who have nothing ... It was through the migrants that God knocked on my door again, "taking me to the desert, talking to my heart."
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Accompanying migrants in detention and afterwards
Friday, February 04, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) February 4, 2011 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA National Director Fr. Michael A. Evans shares reflections on his visit to several detention centers where JRS/USA provides chaplain services to detainees, and on his visit to the Kino Border Initiative on the Arizona — Mexico border.
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Hospitality fosters reconciliation  
Friday, January 14, 2011
(Rome) A message to Jesuit Refugee Service on its 30th Anniversary from Jesuit Superior General Adolfo Nicolas, S.J. – I am sure that the many collaborators and Jesuits who have spent time with JRS will join me in thanking the Lord for the transformation that our service has produced in us. We wanted to help, but in the end, we realize that those whom we served and with whom we served taught us so much more and changed us deeply.
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On Assignment in Ecuador, Part 2
Friday, November 12, 2010
(Quito, Ecuador) November 11, 2010 – I am haunted by our delegation’s visit to the border town of Lago Agrio, Ecuador, haunted by the stories of desperation from the refugee population, haunted by the lack of security offered to the residents, haunted by the lack of civilian state presence and the lack of UN presence besides UNHCR, haunted by the abuse suffered by the people at the hands of Colombian armed groups, the local police and even the Ecuadorian military.
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On Assignment in Mexico
Monday, November 08, 2010
(Washington, D.C.) November 8, 2010 – Nogales straddles the border of Mexico and Arizona, directly in the crosshairs of the immigration debate. But, most surprising to me was the realization that the residents of Nogales are not polarized – they have lived as neighbors for years. The border wall that divides the town in half is a fairly recent phenomenon. I could not help but be reminded of the Berlin wall.
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On Assignment in Ecuador
Monday, November 08, 2010
(Quito, Ecuador) November 8, 2010 – While Ecuador has by far the most advanced asylum system in Latin America and a progressive new constitution that should afford Colombian refugees many of the rights enjoyed by Ecuadorian nationals, all is not well for many of the Colombian refugees who have crossed into Ecuador.
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On Assignment in Panama, Part Two
Friday, November 05, 2010
It has been four years since I last visited the refugees of Jaque, and I must say conditions have not improved – in fact they have gotten worse. The refugee community is comprised mainly of refugees from the Choco region of Colombia, most of whom crossed over into Panama ten years ago or more, fleeing targeted attacks on their villages by the guerrillas and the paramilitaries. Trapped between these vicious groups, many of the refugees lost loved ones to massacres and were thus driven from their mineral rich land.
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On Assignment in Panama
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
(Panama City, Panama) November 2, 2010 – This jungle region of Panama is impassable by car, the only way to get from one village to another is by boat. Children have no access to secondary school education, health care is minimal and many of the children suffer from parasitic diseases. Eight hundred sixty-three of the Colombian refugees living in this jungle region are under a special state of confinement imposed on them by the Panamanian government called Temporary Humanitarian Protection. They are not allowed to leave their village, to work, to access even the most basic of services. These refugees have been living in this state of legal limbo, confinement, and social exclusion for 10 to 13 years.
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Seeing Christ in the faces of migrants
Friday, October 22, 2010
Christ’s humble entrance into this world as an “illegal alien” mirrors the often overlooked struggles of millions of immigrants continually turned away from every inn and “in” to acceptance and legal status (or at the very least, recognition of their human dignity) in this country.
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Rwanda: former refugee shares her story
Monday, September 27, 2010
I was born in 1979 in the district of Kayonza in Kabare II, a sector of Rwanda’s Eastern Province. In 1994, I fled my country due to the war. After moving to Akagera, I crossed to Tanzania with my parents, one brother and two sisters. We left behind two other brothers: one in Kigali, the other in Cyangugu. They both had to flee to Congo but happily in 1995 they could join us in the refugee camp of Cyabarisa II.
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On Assignment in Burundi
Thursday, August 26, 2010
In 2008 the government of Burundi and the rebel armed forces finally reached a negotiated peace settlement that marked the end of nearly two decades of conflict. During the past two years more than 95,000 Burundians have returned home after having spent nearly twelve years as refugees in Tanzania. In the face of this large influx of poor refugees, we asked ourselves how we could help create an environment that ensured adequate food for them as they return to Burundi.
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On Assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Thursday, August 26, 2010
It’s always a happy moment to accompany refugees as they return home after years of living in exile. For nearly 10 years Jesuit Refugee Service had cared for Congolese refugees, driven by war from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Mwange Camp in northern Zambia. Although the camp was not far from the border with their home country, the ongoing conflict in the DRC made return impossible.
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On Assignment in Southern Sudan
Thursday, August 26, 2010
As part of the assembly, Guo Rose Kasara, JRS coordinator for affirmative action programs, recounted her own struggle to earn an education degree as a refugee. Without money for school fees, she earned scholarships and completed her degree. After telling her story, she encouraged the female students to speak with her if they needed assistance with school fees, were victims of rape or became pregnant.
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On Assignment in Mwange Refugee Camp, Zambia
Thursday, August 26, 2010
For any of us, ten years is a long time, but for many refugees it can be an eternity. In the late 1990s thousands of refugees, who fled a savage war in their native Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), were welcomed by Zambia, their neighbor to the east. Nearly 30,000 found refuge in rural Mwange Camp in northern Zambia, where they have lived in peace for the past decade. Like many refugees, as they were forced from their home country, the Congolese endured the loss of land, home, and livelihood. Many of their children have grown up with little or no memory of the DRC.
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On Assignment with the Kino Border Initiative
Thursday, August 26, 2010
During my time there it was not uncommon to serve 150 people at any given meal from all parts of Mexico, Central, and South America. The preparation, serving, cleaning up, and planning for the next meal that were involved in a normal day reminded me of all the farming and ranching work Fr. Kino did to help support his missions. Fr. Kino was an expert frontiersman was well as missionary. He was able to claim 70,000 head of cattle from the initial 20 he brought with him from Europe. Many a day I would look at the food we had available compared to the line of recently deported immigrants and wonder how we were going to feed them. Then as if planned, one of the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist would bring out an unaccounted for pot of food and smile.
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On Assignment in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Kakuma was first opened in 1992 and continues to this day to be home for thousands of refugee families. On my recent visit to our JRS projects there I mentioned to a staff member how surprised I was at the camp’s well-developed organizational and administrative structure. The JRS team member replied, "Yes, it’s a little New York, with over 50,000 refugees from eleven different African nationalities!"
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On Assignment in a Federal Detention Center
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I asked myself, “How can one celebrate the freedom that Christ brings us in a detention center?” Still, I knew that ‘Christ the King’ was with these three hundred men. When the words of Gospel of Matthew 25 were proclaimed, a number of heads nodded in understanding. They knew Jesus was speaking about them: ‘When I was in prison, you came and visited me. . . . Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done to me.” These men knew what it means to be hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, what it means to be a stranger. Some of them had crossed the border long ago; some had crossed it only days before; all of them sought work in the US and a brighter future for their families. The poverty in their home countries — Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico — had forced them to move North.
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On Assignment in Nogales, Mexico
Thursday, August 26, 2010
A hot Mexican meal after the anxiety of apprehension, detention, and deportation by the U.S. Border Patrol is a simple but very welcome experience for many returning Mexican migrants. I witnessed first-hand the power of companionship and solidarity while accompanying Sr. Robles in her daily diligent efforts of feeding groups of arriving deportees at a migrant care center located just steps away from the border crossing.
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On Assignment: JRS/USA
Thursday, August 26, 2010
John Krambuhl worked with JRS/USA, focusing on the religious needs of immigration detainees in US government-sponsored detention facilities.  Afterwards, John joined the faculty of Jesuit High School in Tampa to teach Theology and Ethics. John offered these reflections on his time spent with JRS/USA.
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On Assignment in Koujol, Haiti
Thursday, August 26, 2010
"Jesuit Refugee Service has been more than a father to us all!"  With these words Clauden and Damais, the president and treasurer of a local community group in Koujol, Haiti, summed up the role that JRS has played during the past year in helping a group of 200 local farmers begin an innovative farming project in this small community just a stone’s throw from Haiti’s northeast border with the Dominican Republic. 
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On Assignment: Southeast Nepal
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
In comparison to many other refugee camps I have visited, there is a surprising lack of international presence in the Bhutanese camps. Camp administration is carried out by Camp Management Committees composed of the refugees themselves, with half of the positions occupied by women. Refugees carry out such functions as food distribution and provide the teaching staff for JRS schools, receiving only a small "incentive" payment as return for dedicated volunteer service.
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On Assignment: Sri Lanka
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
In December 2007 Fr. Ken Gavin, JRS/USA National Director, and Ron Ferreri, Development Director, visited the Mannar, Vavuniya and Batticaloa areas of Sri Lanka.
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Thailand: Sri Lankan refugees left languishing in Bangkok
Friday, July 23, 2010
Bangkok, 23 July 2010 – Nathan and his family are recognised refugees. They fled Sri Lanka after Nathan was kidnapped and held for ransom by an armed group. Now residing in Thailand, Nathan and his family face a daily struggle for survival in a country that refuses to acknowledge their status as refugees; leaving them exposed to the risks of arrest, indefinite detention and removal to a country where their lives or freedoms would be threatened.
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Ethiopia: I came with empty hands
Sunday, June 20, 2010
In 2005, I fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with my wife and three children because of the civil war. It took us weeks to arrive at the Ethiopian border after having crossed Uganda and Kenya. When we finally reached the capital, Addis Ababa, our clothes were tattered and we were weak. We presented our cases and sought asylum.
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Kenya: someone who really cares
Sunday, June 20, 2010
When I fled Somalia I did not do so because of the war. You get used to gunshots and shelling. I fled because of personal problems. My stepfather owed money to a certain man who kept asking my mother for it, long after she had been divorced from him.
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