|JRS closes project in Adjumani (northern Uganda)|
Every time JRS closes a project and is no longer needed it means that peace has come to the area where the refugees JRS was serving originated and that they can finally return. Therefore, a closure is always a great joy.
In December 2008 JRS closed down its operations in Adjumani, northern Uganda after being present there since 1992, for almost 16 years, providing mostly education and pastoral support to Sudanese refugees. But Adjumani was not just a project like many others. It was the first to be set up in the newly created JRS region of Eastern Africa and it was one of the largest and longest running JRS projects in Africa. In many ways it manifested the whole range of work that JRS does and it was so successful that it became a model for many other projects consequently set up in the region. In the JRS Eastern Africa Guidelines it says “Education is the proven tool for developing citizens who can build a more just and peaceful society”.
By enabling tens of thousands of refugees to pursue their education JRS followed exactly this approach thus contributing to the development of the New Sudan, where many refugees have now returned to. Providing education has given them hope over two decades in exile and has taught them the necessary skills for the future. The ignatian approach to education implemented at all JRS supported schools offered a holistic education which ultimately aims at forming “men and women for others” who are committed to working for the freedom and dignity of all people. The withdrawal of JRS from Adjumani gives us the opportunity to reflect back and take a closer look at the approach JRS has followed and the impact the JRS programmes had on the Sudanese refugee community. This special issue of the JRS Eastern Africa Newsletter is therefore dedicated to Adjumani. People who have worked there or who have benefited from the very beginning until the end have contributed their reflections on JRS’ approach in general as well as on their personal experiences while working for JRS in Adjumani.
Those who have been part of the JRS undertaking in Adjumani have made this huge operation possible and successful through their dedication. I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to them and to the refugees who have become our collaborators over the years. May the education we all received in Adjumani from one another help us to build our countries in freedom, peace and dignity.