Author: William Scannell

From:  Matthew Mister, JRS/USA

Halfway through 2017, it has been an incredibly successful year for Any Refugee. Since the start of the year, Jesuit Refugee Service has received over 4,500 postcards as part of the project.

In just six months, people have sent postcards from at least 32 different states. We have received postcards from as far away as Germany, Peru, and Thailand. From elementary schools to church groups and scout troops to sororities, messages of hope have been streaming into our D.C. office and we are sending them to our programs around the world.

Cards have been distributed to refugee children everywhere from Chad to Lebanon. These messages of affirmation bring smiles and joy in the darkest situations. They are beautiful examples of two hearts sharing a connection despite being separated by oceans.

One of my favorite cards, which was from a Californian whose parents were once refugees from Vietnam, reads “Things won’t always be difficult. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”

JRS was founded by Pedro Arrupe S.J. in 1980 to respond to the Vietnamese refugee crisis that caused that person’s parents to flee. Having a descendant of refugees from that era send a message of hope to a refugee today demonstrates Any Refugee’s ability to bring two people together.

Any Refugee cards empower their recipients. An 11-year-old girl in the U.S. recently addressed her card to an “11-year-old hero” who she calls “one of the strongest and most inspirational persons in the world.” Words like that do more than just make a young girl smile. They bring hope and confidence to parts of the world where those qualities are in short supply.

Every time we deliver cards we must thank William for beginning the Any Refugee effort in 2014. Not only does it brighten the faces of refugee children around the world, but it also helps the senders of postcards learn about refugees and empathize with their situation.

A third-grade teacher from San Francisco wrote to us saying “Thank you for making it possible for my students to give of themselves and their hearts to share a little love and support for children just like them who could use a reminder that they are loved.”

She perfectly captures the spirit of Any Refugee, a spirit we hope to keep up for years to come.

Hi.  When I started Any Refugee at the beginning of 4th grade, I never guessed that it would turn into a big worldwide thing. The Jesuit Refugee Service made it possible for postcards to be delivered to refugees all over the world.

This is a picture of some kids in Kounoungu Camp in Eastern Chad that serves refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan. They are looking at the postcards they received!

People from all over the world have made postcards of hope. I talk to groups via Skype all the time and I would be happy to talk to yours, too, Just write me and I will help! Here are some kids in Ohio making cards:

And me?  I’m in 7th grade now.


I still live in Alaska, and I still care about refugees.

IMG_2593The US State Department wrote a very nice story about Any Refugee.  Thank you!  Keep the post cards coming!

The photo on the left is of some kids in Byblos, Lebanon reading the cards you sent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled 4Today I had a Facetime with a school in Kamloops, British Columbia. It lasted about a half an hour. All of the people on the other end of the call were very nice and earnestly listening.

We talked about their postcards, and they asked me about mine, and how the whole Any Refugee project started. And, at the end of the call, the entire class held up their postcards for me to see. The postcards they had made were every nice, fully colored in with colored pencil, and behind that, a neat pattern.

It was a very cool little chat that the 15-20 students had with me. The teacher and students asked good and thorough questions. Overall, the call was very respectful and calm, although my camera was frozen and glitchy.

It’s a new school year. We have a school to go to, but millions of Syrian kids don’t. Please, send a message of hope and let someone know they are not alone.

love

This afternoon my dad drove me over to Catholic Social Services so I could deliver the first batch of postcards.  KTUU was there, too!  We only had school three days this week so there weren’t many that were done, but my mom wrapped them with a red ribbon and I gave them to Susan Bomalaski, who will get them to refugee kids who have been resettled here in Alaska.  Good things start small!  You can see some of the finished cards here.

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KTVA came to PNA yesterday and did an awesome report on Any Refugee.  Thank you for coming, Ms Maxwell!

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If Einstein was a refugee we could be pone, too.

 

Today was a great day.  I spoke to the 7th and 8th grade class in the morning and then the 1st and the 4th graders in the afternoon.  Every student at PNA will be painting an Any Refugee postcard.


Contact

Would you like William Scannell or someone from Jesuit Refugee Service to speak to your school or group about refugees and what you can do to help? Write us!

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A Project of the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA