Year-end letter from JRS International Director: Striving for a future of hope
27 December 2021|Rev. Thomas H. Smolich SJ, JRS International Director
A year ago, the world planned on 2021 as a fresh start in the time of Covid. It did not happen. The virus continues to mutate, existing and new crises make the headlines, and refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) around the world face challenges to their dignity and livelihood.
This year JRS continued its work in 57 countries, striving for peace and a future of hope for those we accompany.
- Yasmine, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, started a home business after completing classes at the JRS women’s centre in Bar Elias. “It is a big responsibility to raise my children alone. But when I see the smiles on their faces at the end of the day, I forget all the weariness and struggles.
- In Myanmar, the February 2021 coup brought conflict between the military and most citizens. Violence has not ended, thousands are displaced–yet young people work for the “spring revolution” that will restore dignity and freedom. JRS serves over 40,000 IDPs in makeshift camps, and we advocate with others to protect those striving for justice.
- Elvis and his family fled Burundi in 2015. While in Tanzania, he went to school for the first time. “School was very difficult for me because I only spoke Kirundi… they only spoke Swahili.” He fell far behind. When the family returned home in late 2019, Elvis participated in a JRS intensive education program. “I could not read or write Kirundi. Now I can. I can also conjugate and read in French. I am happy to go to the catch-up centre.”
Hope expresses itself in many ways… in Yasmine, Elvis, the children of Myanmar and those we accompany around the world.
Together we made a difference for countless individuals in 2021. As we continue to face crisis and suffering around the world, many more of our displaced sisters and brothers will be forced to make these desperate journeys. With your support, they will not walk alone. Thank you.