On World Humanitarian Day, Ayo shares his experience serving displaced people in Nigeria

19 August 2023

Ayo, JRS Nigeria, talking to a group of people. On World Humanitarian Day 2023, Ayo, one of the project coordinators of JRS Nigeria shares his experience in serving displaced people.
Ayo, JRS Nigeria, talking to a group of people. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Being forced to leave home, abandon loved ones, and flee to another country in search of safety is a reality experienced by millions of people. Displaced by natural disasters, violence, or other disasters. In these situations, hope is hard to find. JRS is committed to leaving none of these people alone, to accompany, serve and advocate for them, so that they may build a better future for themselves. For World Humanitarian Day this year, JRS wants to shine a light on the over 8,000 colleagues who made this mission possible. 

That of Ayodele Ayo Oluseyi is just one of the countless stories of JRS staff. He started working with JRS in 2018 and is now one of the project coordinators of the JRS Nigeria team. Ayo has always been guided by the priority of putting the human person at the centre of humanitarian work.

“Our work is not just to provide people in need with services. We are with them on this journey. We are here to serve them, and that means restoring hope in the person and helping them build back their life”
Ayo, project coordinator of the JRS Nigeria team

Ayo has played a key role in supporting the programmes of projects located mainly in Adamawa and Borno State and is now supporting the coordination of livelihood projects in Abuja. There have always been hardships and challenges: “visits for assessments and project activity implementation can require up to 8 hours of travel to hard-to-reach local government areas.” However, his commitment to his values is what motivates him to do such rewarding yet challenging work. Humanity, integrity, commitment, and transparency are among the values that fuel him to keep on.

Accompaniment is one of the most important dimensions of JRS, it’s the core value that also drives Ayo’s work. “It demonstrates the depth of the work that we do with refugees, allowing us to follow them in their journeys, and foster belonging, and trust. This in turn helps us to assess and better understand how our services and activities affect their lives.” He continued, “our closeness to the people we serve allows us to better engage partners and stakeholders who look to JRS for authentic representation of local realities and helps them to better understand people’s needs.” JRS is committed to putting people front and centre, involving them in decision-making processes about solutions that will affect them directly from the first intervention.

"Accompaniment demonstrates the depth of the work that we do with refugees, allowing us to follow them in their journeys, and foster belonging, and trust"
Ayo, project coordinator of the JRS Nigeria team

Building quality relationships not only with the people served but also with team members and partners is not easy but it is vital in humanitarian work, “good coordination and collaboration need to take place in a healthy work environment.” Nurturing collaborative quality relationships guarantees the effective use of limited resources available for projects and services, especially during economically turbulent times. Ayo and his team strive to promote inclusive approaches with local communities and partners. “No one should be left out.”

Inspired by Ayo’s insights and experience, let us also remember the words of JRS founder Fr Pedro Arrupe, SJ: “Only by being a man or woman for others does one become truly human.” The insights and experiences of our JRS colleagues from around the world are diverse in context yet have a common thread: the human person is at the centre of our humanitarian work. Such experiences attest to how we are answering this call to be men and women for others united in one mission.