One Proposal for Ukraine: Our Jesuit Coordinated Response
Following the inspiration of Pope Francis, in the face of this drama of millions of people who are forced to leave their lands because of war and violence, our common response should be articulated around four verbs: “welcome, protect, advocate and integrate”.
The Jesuit response to the Ukraine emergency continues to take shape, with the coordinated work of multiple countries and organizations involved in its development. We are responding in Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia under the coordination of the Jesuit Refugee Service and the Xavier Network.
The implementation is coordinated regionally by JRS Europe together with the different local actors. Fr. Tomasz Kot, Fr. General’s Assistant for Central and Eastern Europe, also participates, ensuring the link with Jesuit governance. In addition to this general coordination team, there are now international working teams for program management, fundraising, security, communication, and advocacy. These meet at different frequencies to ensure coordination of all activities around the emergency.
The increasing coordination of immediate response actions is the foundation for the design of a comprehensive proposal integrating all humanitarian response activities around the four verbs of Pope Francis that summarize our response: welcome, protect, advocate for and integrate refugees.
The global program, titled “One Proposal,” encompasses the four dimensions above:
(a) Reception (“welcome”), providing temporary shelter, food and other essentials, transportation, and operation of call centers;
(b) Protection, providing safe shelter, legal assistance, psychosocial support, education, and health;
(c) Advocacy, addressing education and livelihood needs of refugees;
(d) Integration, helping reconciliation and awareness-raising through educational, communication, advocacy, and accompaniment activities.
Members of the Xavier Network and of JRS made field visits. For example, the JRS International (Rome) visit to Romania provided an opportunity to meet particularly Ukrainian women who have fled to that country with their children and have chosen to join the local JRS team to offer their services. Educational and recreational activities, such as art therapy and dance classes, encourage the mental and physical balance of the children.
Olena, a Ukrainian woman who arrived in Romania with her 7-year-old daughter, had to leave her son, who at 18 years of age could not leave the country. She suffered from this separation and did not know what to do. Indeed, so many women have had to leave behind sons, husbands and fathers. Olena was referred to JRS and, after getting a place to live, she now offers art therapy for Ukrainian children. “Without this, she says, I would not know what to do with my life in a new country. Helping children is my life now; it makes me feel alive!”
A group of 12 Ukrainian women who were assisted
by JRS are now part of the JRS team in Bucharest. They welcome the newcomers,
offer their services as interpreters and distribute the tickets that JRS offers
to refugees. Alla, who left Vinnytsia with her two sons, aged 7 and 12, says: “When
I arrived at the JRS office and saw so many Ukrainians in need, I thought I
could help too. As a JRS volunteer, I feel part of a big family.”
At the international level, the response of the Jesuit global solidarity network is extraordinary, having already exceeded five million euros in global fundraising. The intervention and accompaniment strategies for the medium and long term are leading us to develop a three-year proposal with a budget that will need additional support. All Jesuit Conferences, NGOs and mission and development offices are aligned on this common response. If you would like to contribute to this effort, these national links support the “One Proposal”:
• Australia - Jesuit Mission
• Austria - Jesuiten Weltweit
• Belgium - JRS Europe
• Canada - Canadian Jesuits International
• Germany - Jesuiten Weltweit
• Global - JRS International
• Peru and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean - Misión Jesuita
• Poland - Jesuit Social Center
• Portugal - JRS Portugal
• Spain - Entreculturas and Alboan
• Switzerland - Jesuiten Weltweit
• UK - Jesuit Missions
• USA - JRS USA
It is a privilege being able to count on the continued solidarity of so many generous people, Foundations and other Organizations who trust in the work of the Society of Jesus.
On behalf of all the people we serve, many thanks and may God bless you all.
Watch the short testimonies of Alla, Olena and Luiza Mutu from the JRS Romania team.
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