Bridges not walls

There are currently more than 60 million forcibly displaced people in the world.  If this were the population of a country, it would be the 24th largest in the world. Every other second, a new person is forced to flee his home.

Faced with this reality, the choice we all face as individuals, communities, nation-states is a stark one: we can build fences, walls, detention centres in our bid to keep “them” out; or we can build “bridges” to ensure that those fleeing for their life do not have to embark on dangerous journeys in order to reach safety. We can try to build our future on the unsteady foundation of exclusion, injustice and discrimination or else we can choose to build our societies on the solid ground of solidarity, justice and inclusion where everyone belongs and feels welcome.  

Through our mission of accompanying, serving and advocating for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, at JRS we work to build bridges rather than walls. Through the legal, social, psychological and healthcare services we offer safe spaces where the dignity and rights of everyone are openly and fully recognized. Through our pastoral accompaniment, we create spaces of reconciliation where people can once again stand on their two feet. Through our advocacy and awareness-raising activities, we open up spaces of encounter where we recognize that refugees are not numbers, they are people. And by walking alongside people and accompanying those who leave their “homelands, with a suitcase full of fears and desires”[1], we become companions on the journey.

“Companions” - our new quarterly newsletter - is therefore meant to be yet another way of bringing together all those who are willing to walk alongside us on this journey of accompaniment, which is one of the pillars of our work at JRS, and the driving force of all that we do.

The articles which will be offered in each issue are also our way of thanking you for your continuous support and collaboration. Without your concrete help and accompaniment, we wouldn’t be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of migrants and refugees.

At JRS, we believe that what we share is much more important than what separates us. For us, people will always be more important than borders. We also believe that as we journey together, refugees can effectively be a bridge that unites distant peoples, cultures and religions, thus opening new paths on our journey of discovery of our common humanity. Our hope is that the stories, testimonies and articles of this newsletter will be a measure of a shared companionship through which we will discover in the face of all migrants and forcibly displaced people the face of our brothers and sisters, our travelling companions.   

If you would like to start receiving our e-newsletter, please send an email to Ms Kyoko Zhang at: 

[1] Message of his Holiness Pope Francis for the 101st World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2015).


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