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These photographs were taken earlier this week in Africa by Jesuit Refugee Service staff working in a refugee camp outside of Guéréda, Chad. They are amazing!  Look at how happy you made them!

You did this.

When I began this project a little more than three years ago at my school in Alaska, I was young and rather naive. ​It was all just about making people happy, but it was with a feeling of pure emotion rather than knowledge.

I was unsure of what would happen to Any Refugee, and I worried that it would fail and people would hate everything about it. My subconscious was asking “What good can a random postcard do?” but now instead of thinking that, I say “Well, what can it not do?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, three years and many thousands of postcards later, I have seen these pictures along with many others. I’ve talked and Skyped with kids all over the US and Canada about refugees.

I have spoken to refugees in Lebanon, Palestine, and even right here in Alaska, and reflected on the past. I can feel the happiness and angst that they are experiencing, and it is no longer surreal but just something in my life.

 

I have changed as a person, and I feel that this project will have great long term effects and will help people through their hard times. I am not just saying this through a scripted line like a talkshow host, but as a person.

I am happy to see this success, and may it be like this everlasting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

William was graciously invited to speak about Any Refugee with a local think tank at the University of Alaska Anchorage where the topic of the day was Anchorage’s refugee community.  He was well received and many people from different agencies and organizations approached William afterward to network and get contact information to share with people they know across the state.  William is ready for more postcards and Outreach events like this.

If you, like representatives from Catholic Social Services and the Anchorage School District, are interested in participating…please do.  Share Any Refugee with your friends, family, community. Invite William to speak at your school, business or organization.  We are one big community and love for our fellow man transcends language barriers.

Think Tank CrowdThis was most of the crowd that attended the think tank (William is located at the lower left-hand corner of the picture-eagerly awaiting his introduction).  There were some more people sitting with William, but they were accidentally left out.

 

 

William at the beginning of his talk.Thank Take Crowd 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liam at the PodiumHaving to adjust the sound to register his nine-year-old voice.

 

 

 

 

Think Take 2During the question and answer time.  He was asked really good questions about Any Refugee’s origins, current participants and why William believes in his project so much.  He answered them with ease and a charmed tone (his words, not mine).

 

 

Thank you to Catholic Social Services and the organizers of the meeting for inviting William to speak.  It made his day and he looks forward to putting his new contacts to use.

Sincerely,

William’s Mom (with William’s permission)

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!


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