The Road Ahead for Irish Jesuits International

mother with child in South Sudan

We’ve been reflecting as a team on our year just past, in preparing our Annual Report and planning for the launch of our new Strategic Framework 2022-2027. Sitting at my desk in Gardiner Street, never did I think we could have such an impact as a small NGO. Through your support and humble solidarity with those in the Global South, we’ve managed to make some lasting change to people’s lives at a time when they’ve needed it most.

7,401 students supported in primary & secondary education
857 teachers trained
7 schools refurbished

Human Rights:
10,800 children with access to improved education facilities due to advocacy
28,200 people with improved access to water and sanitation due to advocacy
19,100 people with access to improved health services due to advocacy

Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Communities:
Emergency relief items distributed to 26,372 refugees
Increased household income for 80% of farmers involved in our climate smart agricultural projects

Health and Well-being:
COVID19 prevention measures reaching 6,152 people
Improvements in emotional well-being amongst 31% of refugees accessing psycho-social care
Ante-natal care provided to 683 women

COVID19 has made us a global village in ways, yet the disparity between the countries with access to vaccines and those with not, is still stark. An additional 1.5 million children lost their caregiver in the last year, due to COVID19 alone. The latest figures suggest that a minimum of 6.7 million children around the world have experienced the death of a caregiver since the start of the pandemic. While we feel the squeeze in Ireland of rising fuel costs, rising costs of our weekly groceries and watch startling images of Putin’s tanks invade Ukraine, we get an ever so slight glimpse of what life is like for the majority of people in his world. Uncertainty of what lies ahead each morning is a daily reality for most.

Our partners work with people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Conflict is the main cause of their displacement. We reached 25,868 displaced people in Tigray, Ethiopia last year with emergency medicine, emergency non-food items (pots, pans, blankets, cooking utensils), emergency relief food and cash transfers to those most vulnerable.

In the years to come, climate change will be the main underlying cause of displacement. People are already being forced to scrapple over the limited resources available (fertile land and water). The Global South is responsible for just 4% of the world’s carbon footprint – yet are experiencing the effects of it most harshly. This is already the focus of many of our partners who work with rural female small-holder farmers developing climate smart agricultural techniques to improve diet, reduce malnutrition and sell surplus in the local market as a means of bringing income for their households. Last year we supported afforestation projects – including the planting of 70,199 tree seedlings in Kasungu, Malawi.

Our colleague Tim, based in Kenya was told in his last visit to the women in Rumbek, South Sudan of the struggles they go through to get a successful crop yield. Their bamboo fences are constantly being eaten by termites with their crops then being trampled on by wild animals or robbed at night. Tim was shown how your support is helping erect a more permanent fence – just a simple gesture that has made a world of difference for these women – a chance to harvest their crops that they’ve worked so hard to yield to feed their families and sell the surplus.
The reach of our work across 14 countries can be at times overwhelming – that a gesture from Ireland can impact on someone as far away as the remote arid mountains in Afghanistan. Last year, our support enabled 2,999 children from the oppressed Hazara group in Daikundi Province to be taught English, Computer Studies and Peace Building.

As we near the end of the Ignatian Year in July’22, which has been a year dedicated within the Society of Jesus to focusing on what really matters, we can take stock of the impact we’ve had on others and renew our energy for the work yet to be done.

Author: Emer Kerrigan, IJI Operations Manager

Photo: A mother and her baby attend a JRS support group in Maban, South Sudan/Paula Casado JRS Eastern Africa