” Accompany, support, defend – the basic approach of the Jesuit Refugee Service JRS: in line with our mission, we stand by people who have had to leave their homes and advocate for their rights.. ”
Projects in Switzerland
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) was founded in 1980 as an international relief organisation in response to the plight of Vietnamese boat people; today it is active in more than 50 countries with about 1,200 Jesuits and other collaborators.
Projects in Switzerland
In Switzerland, various smaller projects have developed, since 2010 in Basel and since 2017 also in Zurich: Meeting points, an internet café, German courses, the vigil Cercle de Silence, pastoral care and support for individuals, prison visits, visits to emergency accommodation, international networking in cases of forced departures and deportations.
Support for people affected by long-term emergency aid
Of all the asylum seekers living in Switzerland, those who are confronted with a negative asylum decision and an order to leave the country, but do not know where they could go, generally experience the most difficulties. Many, unless they are forcibly deported, live in very precarious circumstances for years: In administratively organised isolation, banned from taking up paid employment, in constant danger of imprisonment and deportation, in other words, in a persistent extreme psychological situation. Since 2015, JRS-Switzerland has been focusing on empowerment for these people by promoting their self-initiative and mobility to participate in various free educational offers, participate in social life, access to fundamental rights, etc.
Cooperation in networks
The projects are integrated into the European Jesuit Refugee Service and are carried out in cooperation with other solidarity groups and networks, e.g. Solinetz ZH, Solinetz BS, Solinetze.ch. Together with the network migrationscharta.ch, we advise parishes and communities that grant refugees e.g. church asylum. We give refugees and migrants a voice in public and take a stand on developments in asylum policy.
We support the awareness-raising work of organisations such as the Observatory, Vivre ensemble, European Citizens' Forum, Solidarité sans frontières, Sant' Egidio, wo-unrecht-zu-recht-wird.
CH 8001 Zurich
Phone: +41 (0) 44 266 21 26
By the Jesuits in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, various projects on education, ecology and spirituality in the global South are promoted, supported and interconnected. "The focus is on people in need. We want to enable the poor and disadvantaged, the oppressed and persecuted to live in dignity and security and to help them each realise their own destiny."
An example of particular interest for ecologically and socially sustainable development is the Whatershed project, which has been transforming large areas of India from a steppe into fertile land for several decades. On the website of Jesuits Worldwide Germany it is described as follows:
"Preserve and manage
In 1967, the Swiss Jesuit Father Bacher SJ founded the Social Centre in Ahmednagar to improve the living conditions of smallholder families in drought-prone regions. With the development of the watershed system, Father Bacher and his co-workers found a solution that was both simple and effective, according to the principle of conservation and management.
Not only in technical terms did Father Bacher's "Ridge-to-Valley" model, which makes the topography of the regions the decisive factor, become exemplary for watershed projects all over the country, but also through a people-centred pedagogy.
Participation brings change
The inhabitants of the affected regions are often "Adivasi", marginalised indigenous communities, such as the Bhil people. They are at the bottom of the Indian caste system. Access to education, health facilities and other state benefits is usually denied to them. Father Bacher insisted on the active involvement of people in all stages of a watershed project from the start, from planning to implementation to regular monitoring.
This participation principle is considered to be one of the main reasons for the success of the programme. Father Bacher's insight: The communities must be empowered to take responsibility for their project themselves in the long term. Thus, the work is systematically planned for an entire village or catchment area together with the local people and carried out by them. They need to know how natural cycles work and why land degradation has occurred. Only in this way watershed systems are truly sustainable.
Hope for hundreds of villages
Often the marginalised communities cannot cultivate their fields because they do not have sufficient funds. The local banks do not consider the people creditworthy. In this scenario, the Social Centre in Ahmednagar plays a crucial role in supporting marginalised farming families by vouching for them so that the bank can give them interest-free loans. Thousands benefited from this programme.
The Social Centre has implemented this model of sustainable rural development in over 270 villages in Maharashtra to date." https://jesuitenweltweit.de/watershed-1
Further information on this project can be found in the magazine of Jesuits Worldwide Switzerland in the Easter 2019 issue, where various ecologically relevant projects are reported. See: https://jesuiten-weltweit.ch/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/JWW_1_2019.pdf