Accompaniment is an essential element of the mission and methodology of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. To accompany means to be a companion. We are companions of Jesus, so we wish to be companions of those with whom he preferred to be associated, the poor and the outcast. To accompany is a practical and effective action. Not infrequently it is precisely the way in which protection is given. It is a way to ‘internationalize’ a situation. The presence of an international team can sometimes prevent an attack on refugees. Moreover, presence can be a sign. That a free person chooses willingly and faithfully to accompany those who are not free, who had no choice about being there, is itself a sign, a way of eliciting hope.
Additionally, a vital part of Jesuit Refugee Service's mission is to defend the rights of refugees and migrants throughout the world. JRS advocates for just and generous policies and programs for the benefit of victims of forced displacement, so people made vulnerable by exile can receive support and protection, and so a durable solution to their plight can be achieved. JRS/USA works with an international network of JRS programs in more than fifty countries, and with other human rights and refugee assistance organizations to tell the story of the "forgotten" refugee. By bringing field-based accounts of needs that too often do not make the headlines to the attention of policy makers in the United States, and by proposing specific actions to meet these needs, JRS advocacy seeks to make a direct and lifesaving impact on the well-being of refugees and forced migrants.
JRS mission is bound by accompaniment
Accompaniment means we stand in solidarity with refugees says Fr. Kenneth J. Gavin, S.J., the Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. Without accompaniment, all of our service efforts, all of our advocacy efforts, fall flat.
Fr. Gavin relates the story of the stranger who appeared to two disciples of Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Like the stranger, JRS tries to challenge those whom we accompany, to understand where there may be hope and solace.
"We try to open the Scripture of their life, the Word of God that lives within them," says Fr. Gavin.
Accompaniment plays a key role
Fr. David Holdcroft, S.J., the Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Southern Africa, discusses the necessity of accompaniment in JRS' work with refugees.
Learn more About the Jesuit Responses to Forced Migration and the Need for Refugee Education