Catholic200SG-JRS micro event

“There are generations of refugees who have been born in camps and have never known life outside. It is a mistake to regard refugees as a burden. We will make them into a burden if we do not allow them to help themselves,” said guest speaker and panellist, Janet Lim to some 80 participants at the JRS online micro-event, Building an Inclusive World, on 28 August 2021.

Janet Lim, the former Assistant High Commissioner (Operations) at the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, was joined by panellists from the spectrum of non-profit, commercial and social enterprises. They include Louie Bacomo, Regional Director of JRS Asia Pacific; Stanley Tan, CEO of Global Yellow Pages Singapore and Co-founder of the Asian Philanthropy Circle; Michelle Lim, Founder and CEO of Make the Change, and Caroline Seow, Chairperson of the Board of JRS Singapore.

Despite their diverse backgrounds, the panellists share a common vision to equip, educate and empower asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs), and have each contributed pioneering efforts to drive LEAP@JRS, a forward-looking initiative to nurture ‘future-fit’ refugees. LEAP@JRS offers certified digital skills training, professional development and wellness programmes, as well as facilitates virtual internships for ASRs.

Panellists across non-profit, commercial and social enterprises discussed the challenges and opportunities in preparing ASRs for the future.

“After years of seeing refugees in camps, I’ve come to believe that it is of utmost importance to help refugees achieve self-reliance in whatever way possible. To do this we need to take education of refugees seriously and to provide refugees with a pathway to gainful employment. This is where I think technology can be used to open doors, which were not possible before,” said Janet.

While securing work rights for ASRs in Asia remains highly challenging, preparing for the future is an imperative. JRS Singapore together with its strategic partners have been championing development programmes and internships to pave the way. “We want to prepare them for the future through vocational training, internships and apprenticeships. That’s how we have structured LEAP@JRS. At this point in time, a lot of our emphasis is on digital skills, so that when they are resettled or repatriated, they will have the skills they need to start their new lives, in their new homes,” said Caroline.

LEAP@JRS provides a variety of courses for digital marketing, graphic arts, content creation and certified IT skills, among others. To deliver on its programmes and objectives, JRS works closely with and is reliant on strategic partners including academic institutions, social enterprises, NGOs and companies.

Michelle, whose creative agency and social enterprise, Make the Change, delivers curricula for LEAP@JRS, said, “We believe in putting in the right resources and programmes to equip them. It’s not purely from a charity perspective, it’s really about hiring talented people to add value to organisations. By empowering other people, our organisations may be empowered too.”

“To scale, LEAP@JRS needs funding. We are also actively looking for individuals, organisations and businesses to join us on this journey as trainers and content providers. We need and welcome more volunteers and partners to be part of our ecosystem,” Caroline said.

Building an Inclusive World was organised by JRS Singapore as part of a series of CatholicSG200 outreach events, celebrating 200 years of the Catholic Faith in Singapore. For more information on how you can contribute to JRS’s efforts, visit LEAP@JRS or email