Exciting times ahead for JRS Singapore in 2023

2022 was a watershed year for all of us, where we could finally resume in-person activities after a 2-year hiatus. As we hop into 2023, we are filled with enthusiasm to reach new heights. So how will this year look like? Gordon Pinto, our JRS Executive Director shares his thoughts.

I have been volunteering with the JRS since the turn of the century. I have thus personally experienced the growth of our community. Indeed, the JRS has been transformed in the last 2-3 years. From a very small Catholic group (yes, we were not even considered to be a Church ministry), the JRS is today, a company limited by guarantee with charity status. From an organisation operated by a handful of volunteers, we now have more than 30 dedicated, active volunteers supported by 3 full time staff. Like a mustard seed, we have sprouted and established a firm foundation.

JRS has pivoted our focus as we grew, reaching out to a more diverse group of beneficiaries. Our initial mandate, as a charity, was limited to raising funds to support the work of our fellow JRS organisations in the Asia Pacific region. However, we could not rest as we see developing events all around the world escalating, with more families displaced and their dignities stripped away.

So, whilst we continue to raise much needed funds for our wider JRS community, we have run programmes that have a direct impact on our beneficiaries. For example, a group of JRS volunteers run impactful programmes which directly support refugees in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Another group of JRS volunteers reaches out to the migrant community in Singapore, organising regular workshops at the Cochrane Recreation Centre. I am especially proud of the good work that our volunteers accomplished during the pandemic period.

So what do we have in store for the future? I am excited to share that we have been developing a few initiatives to give our volunteers even more opportunities to shine forth. Let me give you a preview of what’s in store for 2023 and beyond:

This project with Hai Sing Catholic School and the Refugee Learning Centre in Bogor will kick off in early 2023. JRS has connected with the schools and will facilitate the interaction between the teachers and students of both schools. Initiating engaging programmes will enable students and teachers to build relationships, broaden world-views and develop capacity. It will create awareness of the plight of refugees among the Singapore students. A few other refugee schools in Bogor are now eager to participate in the programme.

Presentation about our new initiative - "Sister School".
Presentation about our new initiative - "Sister School".

Expanding the Migrant Outreach Programme

We are currently in discussion with the Migrant Workers’ Centre to explore ways in with JRS can implement more meaningful and impactful programmes for our migrant community, especially in the area of imparting technical and IT skills.

A workshop in progress.
JRS Regional Director, Louie Bacomo sharing exciting developments with JRS volunteers during the year end bonding session.

Care for Communities and Creation (CCC)

JRS will actively participate in this initiative by the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP). The objective of this programme is to facilitate a social and ecological conversation, encouraging a change of lifestyle which will save our precious earth. As the adverse effects of climate change have been (and continue to be) a major contributor to displacement, JRS intends to make Care for Communities and Creation (CCC) a core focus.

And to cap it all off, the JRS has also been invited by the Church of St Ignatius to develop a programme for the youth of the parish. This programme will broaden their horizons and provide the youth with a platform to connect with refugees and other vulnerable communities in Malaysia.

With all these new programmes, 2023 is shaping up to be a challenging and fulfilling year for us. Yes, we will be busy! JRS has been blessed with volunteers who have contributed their skills and resources for the good of our disadvantaged brothers and sisters. We pray that God will continue to bless our work and the Holy Spirit will guide us throughout this exciting year. We are also extremely grateful knowing that we can count on our ever-supportive Spiritual Director Fr Colin Tan SJ (yes it’s official!) to continue journeying with our JRS family.