As part of our recognition of the Ignatian Year, Bayan Raqqad, JRS Jordan career counselor, shares her work on the Pathfinder Project team and supporting refugee skill development with Ignatius’ vision in mind.
What brought you to the Jesuits and to work with refugees? Do you have a “cannonball” moment? (a moment when you understood what is your “vocation” or “mission” for your life, that motivated you then to work with JRS)?
I identify strongly with the saying, “Do good in the world, and it will come back to you.” Therefore, the decision to work in the humanitarian field was a natural one for me. As a human, we are in this world to help one another and build opportunities for the less fortunate. Because I live in Jordan, surrounded by countries in crisis due to political and economic challenges, I felt called to action to empower youth and women affected by conflict and displacement. Now, I have over five years of experience in education and livelihood-based projects. In this sector, I can directly empower women and ensure that they have a sustainable economic income and can exercise agency. I am so proud to participate in these projects, and when I first heard about JRS from a Jesuit priest, I was struck and excited by its mission to serve all refugees, regardless of their gender, nationality, or age. I completely support JRS’ mission to support all vulnerable people and ensure that they can lead stable lives. I also resonate with the value of giving hope to people and in facilitating a justice that empowers refugees to share their voice to challenge systems that deny human rights.
While many other NGOs here in Jordan focus on a certain demographic or population, JRS has projects that assist and empower all types of refugees and vulnerable people. And that aligns with my personal belief of service to all, to humanity. I am motivated by tangible outcomes. When I hear from my students that they have found a job or have received vocational training or are growing their skillset, my passion for my career and JRS grows. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Is there a specific encounter that you had with a beneficiary that really moved you?
I had the privilege of visiting one of our refugee’s houses with the communication team. It was a part of the JRS cooking activity. The communication team had to write the refugee’s recipe for the cookbook, and at the same time, we listened to her story. This encounter moved me because the Yemeni woman, who has up to 6th-grade education background, told us that she would have never imagined that she would be able to present in front of many people. She informed us that she can do this now because of the career coaching program’s workshops, which include presentation and communication skills. She also told us that she has learned from individual career counseling: how to create a logo for her face-mask business, then she showed us her new designs with her own logo. I finally want to conclude this anecdote by saying I felt humbled and delighted to see my student’s expression, filled with pride and confidence, especially in front of her husband and her children.
How do you think the vision and spirituality of St. Ignatius continued through the work of JRS?
What most resonates with me regarding Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s vision, is that we are working together despite our differences to serve a community with love and empathy. In addition, I share Saint Ignatius’s believe that God is at work in the world, and we are called to work with God in the world. In this way, our work and our mission are more than just about us, but about God’s work that is underneath.