Author: Will Scannell

Hello all, in these troubled times the blog is being updated once again.

I have received news that prior to the pandemic cards were distributed amongst women and children at a JRS run child protection space in Tapachula, Mexico.

This was a slight shock to me because one doesn’t typically think of these cards as going to people just south of myself (currently in Canada). They are not only going to refugees outside of their countries fleeing from war and greater conflicts but also to people who are fleeing violence and other hostile factors inside of their own homes.

Some time after this more postcards were distributed at a group therapy session in order to help ease their suffering and help engage the healing process that many of these women and families are engaging in.

The Women’s Trust Group later sent a message thanking the writers of the cards for the unconditional love bestowed upon them. The translation can be seen below

“To You (the writers of Any Refugee Postcards)

Upon receiving your postcards we are filled with strength, gratitude, and we are encouraged and nourished to continue forward.

As we read your words, we are reminded that this process does not last forever and that good people are present throughout this world.

We also want to say that you must not tire in advocating for us who are here [in Mexico]. Your advocacy is our blessing, because we can see that God has people preparing the way.

May God bless you in the same way, because without knowing who we are, you keep us in your thoughts.

  • The Women’s Trust Group”

Seeing such good come out of this project truly does warm my heart and I can only help but thank all of you for showing such kindness through these cards. Thank you.

Greetings all,

Today I found out that the National Postal Museum in Washington DC will be planning on having an Any Refugee station, helping get the word out. I am thoroughly humbled by this opportunity to get the word out about Any Refugee and look forward to seeing what this will bring.

In other news, I have recently gotten a drop of pictures featuring refugee mothers in Chad having postcards handed out to them. This is just awesome and hope to see more of these pictures in the future!

Last Thursday I had the chance to talk to the third graders of the Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City.  They were truly interested in learning about refugees and how even kids like me and you can make a meaningful difference in their lives.

Here are some of their postcards and letters: they are great!







The JRS team in Batouri, eastern Cameroon, shared your postcards with refugee children at the Bethanie site. Bethanie is an informal site where some Central African refugees live. ‘Informal’ means that it’s not a refugee camp, but a place where refugees have fled to, and now live with little help. They are mostly Fulani and Muslims.

You did this. You made this possible!  Thank you!

Never, ever lose your dream!

Lots of postcards!  You did this!

Hope is necessary for life.

JRS distributes postcards in eastern Cameroon.

Anyone can become a refugee.

Some of these kids are my age.

Knowing that someone cares is important.

You helped these kids to sing with hope and joy!

Today was the second time I spoke using Skype to around 35 sorority sisters from the ΩΦΑ Alpha Kappa Chapter of the University of Kansas.

Olivia Borland and Madisen Huscher, the sorority service directors, invited me to speak last week and again this week about how important hope is to people who have had to flee their homes and become refugees.

Thank you for helping!  Thank you for sending hope!


These photographs were taken earlier this week in Africa by Jesuit Refugee Service staff working in a refugee camp outside of Guéréda, Chad. They are amazing!  Look at how happy you made them!

You did this.

When I began this project a little more than three years ago at my school in Alaska, I was young and rather naive. ​It was all just about making people happy, but it was with a feeling of pure emotion rather than knowledge.

I was unsure of what would happen to Any Refugee, and I worried that it would fail and people would hate everything about it. My subconscious was asking “What good can a random postcard do?” but now instead of thinking that, I say “Well, what can it not do?”









Now, three years and many thousands of postcards later, I have seen these pictures along with many others. I’ve talked and Skyped with kids all over the US and Canada about refugees.

I have spoken to refugees in Lebanon, Palestine, and even right here in Alaska, and reflected on the past. I can feel the happiness and angst that they are experiencing, and it is no longer surreal but just something in my life.


I have changed as a person, and I feel that this project will have great long term effects and will help people through their hard times. I am not just saying this through a scripted line like a talkshow host, but as a person.

I am happy to see this success, and may it be like this everlasting.








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.

Hi.  When I started Any Refugee at the beginning of 4th grade, I never guessed that it would turn into a big worldwide thing. The Jesuit Refugee Service made it possible for postcards to be delivered to refugees all over the world.

This is a picture of some kids in Kounoungu Camp in Eastern Chad that serves refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan. They are looking at the postcards they received!

People from all over the world have made postcards of hope. I talk to groups via Skype all the time and I would be happy to talk to yours, too, Just write me and I will help! Here are some kids in Ohio making cards:

And me?  I’m in 7th grade now.

I still live in Alaska, and I still care about refugees.

IMG_2593The US State Department wrote a very nice story about Any Refugee.  Thank you!  Keep the post cards coming!

The photo on the left is of some kids in Byblos, Lebanon reading the cards you sent!







Untitled 4Today I had a Facetime with a school in Kamloops, British Columbia. It lasted about a half an hour. All of the people on the other end of the call were very nice and earnestly listening.

We talked about their postcards, and they asked me about mine, and how the whole Any Refugee project started. And, at the end of the call, the entire class held up their postcards for me to see. The postcards they had made were every nice, fully colored in with colored pencil, and behind that, a neat pattern.

It was a very cool little chat that the 15-20 students had with me. The teacher and students asked good and thorough questions. Overall, the call was very respectful and calm, although my camera was frozen and glitchy.


Would you like William Scannell or someone from Jesuit Refugee Service to speak to your school or group about refugees and what you can do to help? Write us!


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A Project of the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA