Italy: Forging Partnerships at a Global Level in Assisting Refugees
14 June 2016

A slide from the presentation delivered in Rome to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, World Assembly 2016. (Gushwell F. Brooks/Jesuit Refugee Service)
“But what is the Church doing now? What are you doing? Show us your works, and then we might believe!” Ozanam took up the challenge. “We must do what Jesus did … let us go to the poor”.

Rome, 14 June 2016 – During October 2015, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Southern Africa Communications Officer, Gushwell F. Brooks addressed the All Africa Assembly of the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul (SSVP), to talk about how we can best work together in assisting marginalised people. This year, he was invited to Rome, at the SSVP World Assembly to deliver a similar message.

Both JRS and SSVP, have an extremely profound and rich history in how their missions came about in addressing the plight of people living at the margins. Father Pedro Arrupe SJ, then Father General of the Society of Jesus, was so moved by the plight of the displacement of Vietnamese people, referred to as the boat people and their perilous journeys to exile, he started the process for establishing JRS in November 1980. Blessed Frederic Ozanam, established SSVP in 1833. In response to the question posed in the debate: “But what is the Church doing now? What are you doing? Show us your works, and then we might believe!” Ozanam took up the challenge. “We must do what Jesus did … let us go to the poor”.

With both organisations dedicated to assisting people at the margins have a better life, it is clear that in a world where people movement is fluid, with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants being forced to flee their homes due to conflict persecution and economic inequality, efforts need to be pooled to strengthen the efficacy of our work.

Both organisations have a global network and are present in areas with a significant number of displaced people. Whereas SSVP work with the poor generally, JRS specifically works with refugees and asylum seekers and in accompanying these displaced people have specific skillsets in dealing with their needs ranging from preschool, primary-, secondary- and tertiary education level. JRS also provides psycho-social assistance, respite care for people with disabilities, pastoral care and homebased care for elderly and ill refugees. JRS’s advocacy work protects the rights of displaced people and our vocational skills training programmes educate refugees to apply their skills and start their own businesses that enables them to support themselves and their families.

Many of the poor people assisted by SSVP could access these services as JRS accompanies those displaced by conflict and persecution. JRS could in turn also refer people in need to SSVP, who we are unable to assist further.

The presentation outlined the work of JRS throughout the Southern Africa Region and looked at opportunities for collaboration. The video of the presentation follows:



The story based on presentation by JRS Southern Africa to the SSVP All Africa Assembly.



Press Contact Information
Gushwell F. Brooks
gushwell.brooks@jrs.net
+27 11 618 3404