Today, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA was recognized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the Anne Frank Award. The award is given to an American person or organization who has demonstrated a body of work which confronts intolerance, anti-Semitism, racism or discrimination, while upholding freedom and equal rights.
JRS is being honored for our work improving access to education for refugees and others affected by war and conflict. JRS serves families and children in traditional pre-primary, primary, secondary, and tertiary education programs, but also works to provide better access to formal, informal skill-building, and vocational training programs for refugee children, youth, and adults. JRS’s education programs also feature critical elements including complementary programs for parents and families, teacher training and language skills. JRS currently provides educational services in 42 countries. JRS provides education to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.
Senator Patick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the event said “we must stand up, we must speak out for refugees,” and thanked JRS/USA for doing so. Ambassador Henne Schuwer who presented the award also remarked that as a refugee herself, Anne Frank understood the importance of education in hope for the future.
The award was introduced by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and accepted on behalf of JRS/USA by our Director of Mission Father Leo J. O’Donovan. In his remarks, Fr. O’Donovan quoted a passage from The Diary of Anne Frank:
“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”
“This, I think, is Anne Frank’s message, as a refugee, to the refugees of the world today – ‘our refugees,’” said Fr. O’Donovan. “JRS’s focus on education is an expression of our mission to recognize on the dignity of each person, or as Anne so eloquently put it our ‘piece of the good news.’”
We are so honored to accept this award and thank the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and humbled to be recognized in Anne Frank’s name.