In Sharya, Iraq, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) provides a variety of support programs to refugees and other forcibly displaced people including Yazidis displaced by the genocide in 2014.
This specialized support consists of home visits and material assistance amongst other types of aid. JRS runs learning centers that provide structured education for children and young people as well as skills training for adults. JRS has also made particular efforts to provide mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services to survivors of the Yazidi genocide.
These programs, requiring a multifaceted approach, are currently funded by the US Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). This type of funding allows significant improvements to the services offered by JRS. For example, over the summer, children and young people were able to participate in a variety of academic courses followed by extracurricular activities such as drawing, outdoor exercise, and recess on the newly built JRS sports ground. While these opportunities are typical of their non-displaced peers, they’re not for them. The chance to experience childhood in a safe and enjoyable space is of the upmost importance for JRS programs designed for children. In May 2022, the center hosted a kindergarten graduation ceremony for 139 total students.
As for the women who come to the JRS Community Center, they’re able to participate in multiple courses such as literacy and sewing to help them effectively build their own livelihoods as they resettle away from home. This is in addition to MHPSS services provided, which are capable of meeting individual experiences and needs. JRS has integrated mental health and psychosocial support into many of the programs, as forced displacement can disrupt many aspects of a person’s life. In the wake of such disruptions, displaced persons may require this additional support as they adapt to new, unexpected circumstances.
In August 2022, PRM came to visit the center, where they witnessed these programs first-hand. Employees had the opportunity to share their experiences and appreciation with them as the PRM team saw the funding in action. These visits are vital in assessing the status of current PRM project sites, and this was the first one conducted since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The US Department of State: Bureau of Population, Migration, and Refugees is a significant partner from which JRS receives funding to work with refugees and host communities around the world. This partnership allows JRS to expand programming in locations such as Iraq, Cameroon, Chad, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Peru, South Africa, South Sudan, Thailand, Uganda, and India.