Transcending boundaries​

LEAP@JRS aims to provide certified digital skills training, professional development and wellness programmes, as well as facilitate virtual internships for ASRs.

2021 was the best of times, and the worst of times. Amid the continued disruptions of COVID-19, we saw and grasped the opportunity to transform and grow.

As an international body, JRS has offices across the world, which provide accompaniment and services to asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs) in places with the greatest needs. For Singapore, opportunities to be physically present with our refugee brothers and sisters have been fewer by contrast. In the past two years, our visits also have been greatly reduced by the various lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed.

However, enhanced internet connectivity and the proliferation of digital tools have opened up new pathways to engage, empower and journey with our refugee brothers and sisters. After a series of meetings and much discernment from March to April 2021, a new Board and leadership team were formed to take JRS Singapore forward, as we navigate the challenges and opportunities of this shifting landscape, while answering the call to greater stewardship and sustainability.

With vision and mission renewed, and a heightened sense of purpose and hope, JRS Singapore forged ahead with key initiatives to help nurture future-ready ASRs through LEAP@JRS, as well as contribute towards building a vibrant and inclusive community for Singapore’s migrant workers.

One of the first projects to get off the ground was our online digital marketing course under LEAP@JRS, launched in July 2021. LEAP@JRS is a cornerstone initiative that aims to provide certified digital skills training, professional development and wellness programmes, as well as facilitate virtual internships for over 400 ASRs in the next few years.

In August, we brought together key contributors and partners of the LEAP@JRS programme to share their perspectives at a virtual roundtable as part of the series of CatholicSG200 outreach events. In October, after months of intense planning and coordination by teams across Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, our first batch of 19 students completed the course. It was a proud moment for the students, their instructors and the JRS team as we celebrated our pioneer graduates at their virtual convocation.

In 2022, we hope to expand our digital education programme to more diverse refugee communities in the region. We seek partners who are willing to come onboard and provide training for different skill sets, which could open doors for more internship and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Closer to home, what began as a small group of JRS volunteers organising recreational activities for migrant workers at the Cochrane Recreation Centre in September, soon became a succession of events over the Deepavali holiday and on International Migrants Day as we were invited back for more. While initial efforts of our migrant outreach programme have been focused on helping migrant workers unwind and find respite amid COVID restrictions, we seek to introduce skills-based training workshops to cater to the varied interests of our migrant brothers and sisters in the year ahead.

Our mission would be impossible without like-minded collaborators and partners, and especially our volunteers. Today, JRS Singapore is blessed with over 50 volunteers, talents from various walks, and a growing number of benefactors, business partners as well as collaborators from commercial enterprises to non-profit organisations.

To foster the growth of JRS Singapore as a faith community, we established a team of prayer warriors to tend to the spiritual nourishment of our volunteers. Our commissioning mass in June brought together JRS volunteers who were charged with the mandate to Accompany, Serve & Advocate. We commemorated World Refugee Day in June and World Day of Migrants and Refugees in September with prayers and reflections led by Good Shepherd Sisters. We connected with Jesuit priests over informal fireside chats, who inspired with their vocation and faith journeys.

As we wrapped up a rewarding year with a thanksgiving Mass on the Feast of the Holy Family, we renewed our commitment to work, learn and grow as a JRS Family. Together, we will forge ahead in 2022, turning obstacles into opportunities to impact the lives of even more beneficiaries.

Elaine Wong
Executive Director and Country Representative,
JRS Singapore