2020: Seeing through times not normal
What a year! A jarring jolt greeted the new year as we faced the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to make sudden changes in our ways of working and living. Many things were not normal—our accompaniment of refugees, our service and advocacy—all mediated by technology that does not offer the same quality and impact. The refugees lost income and suffered from the lack of access to safety nets and social services enjoyed by others. The pandemic has surfaced social inequalities embedded in our systems. There were a few opportunities that opened—virtual space became a refuge of those living in fear of arbitrary arrest, a world of opportunity with the growth of online learning.
This 2020 Annual Report reflects how JRS mission adapted to the challenges of a “new normal”, seeking to be responsive, agile and present to refugee lives and struggles. Safety, solidarity, service—these were three core principles that guided JRS mission during this pandemic. The coronavirus is teaching us to think beyond our boundaries. No safety without solidarity. Our solidarity must be shown in our service to the excluded; in action, not only words. There remains the challenge to keep physical distance while ensuring that we truly transcend the social distance among us that begets inequality, loneliness and marginalization.
What year will we see this pandemic end? This is just one of many uncertainties we have to grapple in these times not normal. Yet, our lives and mission must continue adapting to the challenges of the coming years. It is with a deep resolve drawn from our faith and hope that we set our sight beyond 2020.
Louie Bacomo, Director, Asia Pacific/Thailand
16 September 2020