“Together we heal, learn and shine”

A collaboration from JRS International (Jesuit Refugee Service)

World Refugee Day is celebrated every year on 20 June. This international day was designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe, shine a light on their plight, and work together to find long-term solutions to displacement. The theme for World Refugee Day 2021 is “Together we heal, learn and shine,” and calls for greater inclusion of refugees in health systems, schools, and sport.

COVID-19 showed us that we can only be saved together, as Pope Francis reminded us. The Society of Jesus, all around the world and mainly through the JRS network, is strongly dedicated to the refugees and to heal their wounds. This ministry is directly in line with its second Universal Apostolic Preferences: accompany the poor and the marginalized.

Here is a story that helps us to understand how the JRS is working in the spirit of the 2021 World Refugee Day.


© JRS Cameroon

Cameroon: local youth and refugees build a common future

In Bertoua, Cameroon, young students are not only learning a vocational skill, but how to live and work alongside each other. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Cameroon is offering an eight-month professional training course, along with dormitory accommodations, for young refugees and Cameroonians in five different centres. The project promotes reconciliation and social cohesion with the aim to end discrimination against Central African refugees in the country, build bridges between communities, and provide opportunities to youths who want to build a better future.

“This training has advantages for both Cameroonians and Central Africans,” explained Zari, a young Cameroonian who is studying in the Health Assistant course. “For Cameroonians, it means benefiting from the discovery of new cultures and ways of life. Also, learning to collaborate in each other’s businesses benefits us all.”

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR), over 105,000 Central Africans have been displaced in bordering countries following the violence erupting from the December 2020 elections, and more than 5,000 of them sought refuge in Cameroon.

The lack of resources and opportunities has stoked prejudices and hostility towards these newcomers. Limited access to basic services and education has also created instances of social exclusion to forcibly displaced individuals from their host countries.

In this JRS youth training programme, seventy per cent of the students are refugees, while thirty per cent come from the host community; this creates opportunities for cultural exchanges, hospitality, solidarity, and fellowship. The students also participate in theatre, cinema, and peacebuilding activities.

Since the program started in 2018, around 470 students have taken advantage of the various courses that are offered - e.g., courses geared to teach skills in industries such as the hotel business, hair and beauty, administration, and healthcare.

“I am learning about the functions of the human body and how to work in a healthcare centre, because it is my dream to heal others,” expressed Ezéchiel, from the Central African Republic, who is in the same course as Zari.

“Personally, I would like to develop my own business with a refugee,” explained Esther. After living together with a mixed group of friends while following a course on administration, she came to understand the importance of social inclusion for refugees. “Refugees need people to understand them in order to overcome their difficulties,” she added.

“At the beginning I was not so sure about the idea of living with people I didn’t know,” recounted Sylver. But later, I told myself that we can actually complement and assist each other.” After finishing the administration course, he wants to start a business with a Cameroonian person to contribute to peace and stability. “You have to think about others as your brothers and sisters,” Sylver emphasised.

Together We Heal

We cannot heal and move forward until all of us, including refugees and forcibly displaced people, are vaccinated. Join JRS in calling for equity in vaccine distribution. Share JRS' statement.


Together We Learn

Education prepares refugees to meet future challenges and create a better future for themselves and their communities. Help JRS provide quality education to refugees.


Together We Shine

Sport has the power to heal, strengthen social ties and networks, and promote ideals of peace. Learn how JRS is using sport to help refugees shine. Watch JRS/USA’s virtual event about sport and refugees.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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