Voices
This section highlights the voices of refugees as well as the JRS staff and volunteers who accompany them.



What now for Philoxenia – hospitality in Greece?
18 November 2016
(Brussels), 18 November 2016 – Last month, JRS Europe policy and advocacy assistant, Kathryn Doyle, visited the JRS projects in Greece, to assess the current situation and needs of refugees in Athens and on Lesbos. Here, she reflects on what she saw and experienced during the two weeks she spent there.
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Forced return: Belgium to Africa
10 November 2016
Brussels, 10 November 2016 - Every week when I visit the detention centre, Nelly (not her real name) is sitting there waiting for me. Also today, although there is not much more that we can talk about. Nelly has already been kept here for six months and her lawyer has told her quite recently that all the steps in the procedure have been taken.
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When refugees speak poetry
19 July 2016
Paris, 19 July 2016 – JRS France recently held a poetry evening with refugees from a number of different countries. Here, Anne Kempf, a French teacher working with JRS, recounts the experience.
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Beach notes from Lesbos, Greece
20 November 2015
20 November 2015 - Under UNHCR coordination and working with Caritas and other NGOs, JRS has sent a team of volunteers to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos and to other border areas, where refugees are arriving and leaving in great numbers. Here, JRS Hellas director Maurice Joyeux SJ shares some first-hand experiences from the island.
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If you stay, you never know if you’ll stay alive
12 November 2015
12 November 2015 - A Syrian refugee tells JRS his story of fear, flight and desperate search for protection in Europe. The interview takes place on Skype. HB is in the kitchen of the centre he shares with other refugees in Germany. He is busy chopping up a chunk of meat they received, and readily shares his experience.
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Little refugee girl in Malta
10 July 2015
Valletta, 10 July 2015 - Roxanne Borg, refugee lawyer for JRS Malta, describes a chance meeting with a little Syrian girl in one of Malta’s open centres for asylum seekers.
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Melilla or die
24 March 2015
Madrid, 24 March 2015 - It took Abou Deseigne (29) three years to get to Spain from Mali. If you have the right travel documents you can get on a plane in the capital Bamako and be in Madrid in about seven hours.
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France: Youth Encounters
24 February 2015
Paris, 24 February 2015 - Welcome Project co-ordinator for JRS France, Marcela Villalobos Cid, writes about a new hospitality project focused on youth in Paris. Twice per month, in the chaplaincy of the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, a youth group get together to cook, to discuss and to share. This group is called ‘Welcome Jeunes’ (Youth Welcome), a new project of the Jesuit Refugee Service France.
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Malta: 'I have a value, they are doing this for me'
30 December 2014
Valletta, 30 December 2014 – Mohammed Idris' contribution is a very personal one. He writes as a refugee who was motivated to join JRS because of the way JRS accompanied him when he was in detention. For Mohammed, his work as a cultural mediator with JRS Malta offered countless practical opportunities to accompany refugees, who often feel lost in a country with a language and culture so foreign to their own. The refugees who need most help are those who are vulnerable, who need to be accompanied with patience and cultural sensitivity.
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France: is this the same planet?
08 September 2014
Paris, 8 September 2014 – Molly Mullen from JRS International wanted to interview Mohammed about the lodging he found in Paris thanks to the Welcome Network. Instead, she heard about the deep frustration and sadness felt by refugees who seek asylum in Europe.
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France: longing for a space to call home
24 July 2014
Paris, 24 July 2014 – When I want to take a shower, I look at my body. For example here, this is from a cigarette. My hand is broken. You can see they used acid to burn off the tattoo I got for my mother.
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Heart of gold: detained but not broken
04 July 2014
London, 04 July 2014 - In this testimony from the UK a JRS volunteer describes her unexpected encounter with an Afghan man held in an immigration removal centre. This chance meeting of two people, one free and the other detained, reveals a surprising role-reversal and highlights the inner human spirit that knows no borders.
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Searching for hope and dignity
24 April 2014
24 April 2014 - At the first ever Voices of Faith storytelling event held in the Vatican, on 8th March, 11 remarkable women shared their personal stories demonstrating how their unwavering Christian faith has positively impacted their life, greater society and the world. Katrine Camilleri, director of JRS Malta, was among those who shared their testimony.
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Italy: a message from Pope Francis to Jesuit Refugee Service
12 September 2013
Rome, 12 September 2013 – Pope Francis made an official visit to the JRS Italy soup kitchen in Rome on Tuesday. Immediately following his visit, the Holy Father delivered this speech to those gathered in the Chiesa del Gesù, a Jesuit church in the centre of Rome where the headquarters of JRS Italy is located.
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Italy: a message from JRS Italy Director to Pope Francis
11 September 2013
Rome, 11 September 2013 – Father Giovanni La Manna, JRS Italy Director, delivered this speech to Pope Francis at Chiesa del Gesu, on 10 September 2013 during the Holy Father's visit to Centro Astalli (the Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy).
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Italy: a message from Carol, Syrian refugee, to Pope Francis
11 September 2013
Rome, 11 September 2013 – Carol, a Syrian refugee, delivered this speech to Pope Francis at Chiesa del Gesu, on 10 September 2013 during the Holy Father's visit to Centro Astalli (the Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy).
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Italy: a message from Adam, Sudanese refugee from Darfur, to Pope Francis
11 September 2013
Rome, 11 September 2013 – Adam, a Sudanese refugee from Darfur, delivered this speech to Pope Francis at Chiesa del Gesu, on 10 September 2013 during the Holy Father's visit to Centro Astalli (the Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy).
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Syria: family mornings in Damascus
03 May 2013
Damascus, 3 May 2013 – How lovely is a meeting between human beings, a meeting in which we desire to show our love and feelings towards each other. I felt something similar to this when I met the families at the JRS St Albert Hurtado House in Bab Touma. Neither I nor they had known each other before, but I felt as if we had known each other for a long time.
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Turkey: what we can do, we do
19 February 2013
Ankara, 19 February 2013 — The Jesuit Refugee Service in Ankara owes a debt of gratitude to 20 expat volunteers who on a regular basis volunteer their time and donate items to the JRS project. In the last month alone, JRS received almost 200 brand new blankets, 30 brand new jackets and 50 used jackets. The response to a call for two wheelchairs was answered within two hours.
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France: Welcome...
16 July 2012
Paris, 16 July 2012 – He is there, squatting on the kitchen floor and peeling potatoes, clearly feeling very much at home, as if he were back in the Afghan countryside. "Good evening! Had a good day?"Actually I've had a bad day and his welcoming smile makes me feel brighter; I'm glad of the ray of sunlight in my kitchen.
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Syria: JRS centre offers a fresh start to Iraqis
28 May 2012
Aleppo, 28 May 2012 – After his daughter, Ghufran, was shot in the leg and his home and business attacked, Bassam Abdullah had reached his limit. Six days later he fled. In 2010, three years later, his wife and four children came across the JRS Deir Vartan Centre, a stroke of luck which changed his life.
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Ukraine: refugee family finds no protection
29 June 2011
Brussels, 29 June 2011 – Hakimi is a 38-year-old Afghan mother of four. She came to Ukraine fleeing from war and danger in Afghanistan, but her journey was not a direct one.
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Malta: instability hinders integration
20 June 2010
Jean has a degree in Communications and he worked as a journalist in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His reporting activities about the events in the DRC resulted in his life being threatened and eventually he was forced to flee the country.
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