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Summer Update from Jesuit Refugee Service USA

From:  Matthew Mister, JRS/USA

Halfway through 2017, it has been an incredibly successful year for Any Refugee. Since the start of the year, Jesuit Refugee Service has received over 4,500 postcards as part of the project.

In just six months, people have sent postcards from at least 32 different states. We have received postcards from as far away as Germany, Peru, and Thailand. From elementary schools to church groups and scout troops to sororities, messages of hope have been streaming into our D.C. office and we are sending them to our programs around the world.

Cards have been distributed to refugee children everywhere from Chad to Lebanon. These messages of affirmation bring smiles and joy in the darkest situations. They are beautiful examples of two hearts sharing a connection despite being separated by oceans.

One of my favorite cards, which was from a Californian whose parents were once refugees from Vietnam, reads “Things won’t always be difficult. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”

JRS was founded by Pedro Arrupe S.J. in 1980 to respond to the Vietnamese refugee crisis that caused that person’s parents to flee. Having a descendant of refugees from that era send a message of hope to a refugee today demonstrates Any Refugee’s ability to bring two people together.

Any Refugee cards empower their recipients. An 11-year-old girl in the U.S. recently addressed her card to an “11-year-old hero” who she calls “one of the strongest and most inspirational persons in the world.” Words like that do more than just make a young girl smile. They bring hope and confidence to parts of the world where those qualities are in short supply.

Every time we deliver cards we must thank William for beginning the Any Refugee effort in 2014. Not only does it brighten the faces of refugee children around the world, but it also helps the senders of postcards learn about refugees and empathize with their situation.

A third-grade teacher from San Francisco wrote to us saying “Thank you for making it possible for my students to give of themselves and their hearts to share a little love and support for children just like them who could use a reminder that they are loved.”

She perfectly captures the spirit of Any Refugee, a spirit we hope to keep up for years to come.