Spring Appeal 2021
27 February 2024
Dear friends and members of the JRS family,
I hope you and your family are faring as well as possible under the difficult circumstances of COVID-19. Forty years ago when Fr. Arrupe created the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS); he never intended for it to last so long. Yet, here we are today in an era of unprecedented forced displacement and in the midst of a pandemic. Before COVID-19, refugees and people seeking asylum were already amongst the most disadvantaged and marginalised in our community. Then the pandemic hit and so many fine people in the community stepped up alongside JRS Australia to help those whom we serve, put food on the table, pay rent, buy life saving medication, and encourage systemic reform. Now, the spread of the Delta variant across Greater Sydney and the lockdowns have pushed families and individuals further towards the brink.
Meet Leyla, her husband Metin and their three young children, Ervin, Iman, and Farah*
Metin worked as a casual labourer in a warehouse. He was being underpaid but did not complain, as he said that any income is better than none at all. He never made enough money to cover the family’s rent or other basic living expenses like food, nappies, formula and medication. As a result, the family accumulated over $2000 in rental arrears and were evicted from their property. When Leyla, Metin and their three young children were evicted from their home, the latest lockdown was announced, and Metin was told he could not go back to work. Albeit small, the family lost their only source of income.
This family of five now lives in a two bedroom property – they share one bedroom. This was the only housing available to them.
Even in these cramped circumstances, the family cannot afford to pay their rent and are falling into arrears again. Metin and Leyla cannot afford their baby’s medicine and they are struggling to home-school their eldest child, in close proximity to younger siblings. Their youngest daughter Farah lives with a chronic lung disease and spends a considerable amount of time in hospital. Metin also has a shoulder injury from his home country but he has not sought assistance in Australia for this yet. He explains that his focus is on supporting his family and he cannot afford to take any time off work. They are worried that their family will face eviction again and will be left with no home or income. Leyla and Metin feel as though they have failed their children, though JRS bears witness to the great love which they bring.
Thanks to your generous support, JRS is providing the family with regular emergency relief payments to pay their rent, to buy formula and source life-saving medicine. They also have a caseworker at JRS who is working to find alternative housing and long-term support for the family. Metin has been referred to JRS’ employment service for assistance to find safe and suitable work as restrictions have eased.
During the most recent lockdown, JRS had been receiving far more calls for assistance than it has the resources to respond to.
Over the last weeks, our casework team has been inundated with requests for financial assistance and food, and support to find shelter and to access health services from people who cannot even leave their homes, let alone secure work. Throughout the pandemic and during lockdown, JRS Australia continues to support children, women and men in situations of profound vulnerability.
JRS provides specialist casework support, emergency relief, psycho-social support, employment assistance, access to legal assistance, and a specialist service supporting women and their children who have experienced or are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Over the last year, we have near tripled our emergency relief programming, yet many still face a waiting list for our services.
The weeks and months ahead will continue to be challenging for the people that we serve, despite restrictions easing across Greater Sydney, but together we can help to build a more just world, one where dignity is guaranteed for all.
Without the generosity of people like you, our work would not be possible. No amount is too small to transform the life of a person in extreme need.
We are stepping up to provide as much help as we can. Will you continue to step up with us?
Your generous support is 100% tax deductible.
On behalf of the JRS Australia team and the people we serve, we offer our heartfelt thanks to you for standing alongside us.
The JRS Australia team
*Names have been changed to protect identity