From Today’s First Reading:
‘Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God today commands you to observe these laws and customs; you must keep and observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.’
Throughout Lent we introduce you to a number of our refugee friends. As you read their experiences, can you feel a loving God at work in the world?
Fernand came into contact with JRS relatively recently, when he was about to be sleeping on the street. He is now staying with a community of Jesuit priests, organised by JRS UK’s hosting scheme.
“I found out about JRS three or four months ago from a friend who said maybe they could help me. I spoke to Cristina and she registered me. Everybody says that JRS does lots and they get a lot of help here. Personally, I would have been homeless if it wasn’t for JRS. I had been living with a friend for more than 8 months when suddenly he told me that I had to leave because his son was coming. It’s because of JRS that I’ve got somewhere to stay today. If JRS were a football team, of course I would support them because they are supporting me.”
Being hosted involves some new experiences for Fernand, but it also reminds him of his family:
“This is the first time I’ve lived with people I don’t share a culture with. Even the food is different, so I have to adapt. Thank God for the priests, they are priests in their souls. They always ask me, ‘Are you okay Fernand?’ They always want to make sure that I am feeling comfortable. They won’t let me clean or cook. They like to joke, so there’s a good atmosphere.
“When I look at most of them, they remind me of my mother, who is over 80. When I see Father Harry and Father Mike, it’s just like seeing my father. John, who is younger than the rest of them I see more as a brother. In my family, I have three brothers and two sisters, one of whom died in 2008. I’m the Benjamin, the youngest. My oldest brother was born in 1953, so John’s the same age as my big brother.”
An Invitation to Action
This week, and especially today, Fernand has shared with us the challenges he faces on a daily basis, particularly with securing accommodation.
We know the difference that a safe and secure home makes to our friends’ lives and JRS UK is just one of many charities that run hosting schemes for refugees and people seeking asylum.
Throughout Lent, we’re inviting you to make an extra effort to take simple actions to show refugees and people seeking asylum understanding and compassion.
Volunteer: Do you have a spare room? Has Fernand’s experiences inspired you to host?
If you live in Greater London and would be interested in learning more about hosting a refugee with JRS UK, come along to our open evening on Tuesday 2 April. You’ll have the opportunity to listen to volunteer hosts share their experiences, and to ask as many questions you wish. Find out more.
If you live outside greater London and would be interested in hosting, get in touch with your local organisation supporting destitute refugees and people seeking asylum. NACCOM’s directory is a great place to start.
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