20 Years of Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters in Their Journey Towards Hope

MAY 30

20 Years of Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters in Their Journey Towards Hope

October 23, 2003, marked the 20th year of the Hijas de Jesus’ presence in Thailand in collaboration with the Society of Jesus’ mission through the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). 2023 was also the 43rd Anniversary of JRS as an international organization, 36 years of mission is solely dedicated to the 2 refugee camps on the border of Mae Hong Son, Thailand.

For our community, it was a “silent” celebration. A Eucharistic mass was offered in thanksgiving for the blessings and graces received from God. The FOCUS at that time was on how to respond to the emergency needs of the people. The escalating conflicts and violence in Myanmar resulted in a dramatic increase in Tatmadaw military attacks within Kayah and Kayin states resulting in large numbers of people from Myanmar crossing to the edge of Ban Mai Nai Soi camp and other borders along Thailand. The influx also included significant numbers of CDM (Civil Disobedience Military) families arriving in Nai Soi Mae Hong Son and has continued throughout the year 2023 up to the present. Added to the fear and anxieties of the people were the number of airstrikes that had happened several times in Daw Naw Kaw, where the JRS-supported school is located. The place is not safe anymore so the school was closed and people moved to different areas where they feel safer. Backpack learning is the only possibility at this time.

Being a part of the 3-fold mission of JRS: Accompany, Serve, and Advocate for the cause of refugees and forcibly Displaced Persons, we are not spared from feeling anxious and at times helpless in facing these overwhelming challenges which somehow affect our health condition.

In these situations, God’s love and care are greatly manifested. Our donors are more compassionate through their generous response to continuing their support. Several organizations expressed their interest in partnering with JRS seeing how JRS responds to the needs of the people and how aid and financial support are being managed well. God also touched the hearts of many people to show their solidarity by sending material and financial support in any way they can. Worth mentioning is the generous support of the families and friends of our Sisters in the Province of Asia Oriental, Da Ren High School, and Sepientiae School in Taiwan.

Looking at the situation, the big challenge of JRS in 2024 is that a large number of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) in Kayah (Karenni) State need humanitarian assistance which we and the rest of our colleagues in JRS are committed to providing help to the best we can. Our JRS Country Office and Regional Office will continue to seek - out major and minor funding to provide Education in Emergency (EiE) assistance.  

Amidst all these challenges, there is so much to thank God for:

  • the opportunity to work closely with the refugees and those in need together with the JRS-MHS team
  • personal and professional growth we have from the trainings, meetings, seminars, workshops, and online studies we have attended and participated in, the challenges, failures, and successes we have experienced in our respective work.
  •  the joys and the pains of interpersonal relationships that lead us to know and understand better ourselves and one another. This gives us concrete experience of how peace and reconciliation work among us so we can also lead others towards it
  • through the spiritual support we get from the parish and Fr. Joe, SJ who was then the JRS-MHS Project Director, the Karenni priests, the congregation especially the Asia Oriental Province where our community has belonged for almost 14 years (the community was directly under the General Government during the first 6 years).
  • our Sisters, families, and friends who continuously pray for us giving us the grace of good health of mind and body, and protecting us many times from the dangers of challenging travels and trips to and from the refugee camps while doing our mission  
  • the opportunity to put into life our Congregation’s commitment to serve those who are in most in need and to express Saint Candida’s love for the poor through our refugee and IDP brothers and sisters. In this way, we put to flesh our determination “Following Jesus, Poor and Humble”
  • the support and care of our former province, Asia Oriental, and for continuing our mission in Thailand under the Province of Indico-Pacifico as decreed on December 22, 2023

Indeed, as a community, we feel so blessed and deeply grateful to the Lord to have been chosen and sent to serve Him through our refugee brothers and sisters in the camps. And as we continue to journey with them, the JRS staff, and others, we ask God, our loving Father to grant us His Spirit to lead and guide us always so that everything we do will redound to His greater glory and the good of our refugee and internally displaced brothers and sisters.

With deep gratitude, we thank God, our loving Father, to JRS, and to all those who have been part of our life and mission in Mae Hong Son, for the past 20 years. Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who have supported us with your friendship, concern, love, trust, understanding, patience, and acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses, prayers, material and moral support. May God reward each one of you, your families, and your communities.

The Community of the Hijas de Jesus, Mae Hong Son, Thailand

Sr. Evelyn de Alba, Sr. Pilar Jaen Brufal and Sr. Elvenia Escultor

Here are some Photos...