What is global became local for students at Saint Ignatius College Prep.
Some members of the Jesuit Refugee Service, otherwise known as JRS, came to campus to talk about the response to the Ukraine crisis.
Prefect of Mission Dr. Geoff Miller hopes the conversation in the McLaughlin Theater helped students better understand the ongoing and evolving overseas situation. He said, "I want them to realize that even as this war reaches the one year mark, it is still going on and still demands our attention as people committed to a more just world."
Olena Zinkevych from Odessa articulated the depth of her own harrowing experience. She spoke to students about having had to flee Ukraine. Zinkevych said she found refuge in Romania with the help of JRS. As she immediately worked to rebuild aspects of her war-torn life, she turned her own personal crisis into an opportunity to help fellow Ukrainians in need of humanitarian intervention. Zinkevych volunteered as a translator at a hotel JRS rented to house her fellow refugees. Now, as she works for JRS, she hopes to be an example. She told us, “It is important for Ukrainian refugees to believe they can survive."
Zinkevych’s work has the admiration of Diana Haidemak, a legal counselor with JRS. She said, “Olena shows you can receive, but also give help to others.”
Helping people who’ve lost their homes, their belongings, even the country of their birth, is the mission of Jesuit Refugee Service. Romania is just one place where JRS accompanies, serves and advocates on behalf of refugees. The Jesuit lifeline has been there for displaced Ukrainians around the world, assisting them in 23 global office sites with everything from education for children to food, water, shelter, financial assistance and counseling.
“I’m happy I’m able to help other people,” said Haidemak. “Maybe I did something to add a bit of hope in their most difficult times. If that is the case, I am happy and blessed.”
Hers is the kind of work that calls to mind an important Ignatian Value.
Dr. Miller said, "I want students to learn that there is a Jesuit organization promoting social justice through outreach to refugees and displaced peoples. Perhaps they'll want to be part of this organization themselves."