Christmas is a time to celebrate the gifts that God has given us, and to share in that celebration with those we love. But it’s also a time to be conscious of those in most need, and to consider how we can support them.
Here are a number of ways you can reach out to others at Christmas through our Jesuit social ministries.
Jesuit Mission’s Christmas Appeal this year asks people to support those living precarious lives in the Thingangyun Slum in Yangon, Myanmar.
The slums are home to 200,000 people who are among the poorest and most vulnerable in the world.
The Jesuits are the only major organisation serving and accompanying the most marginalised people in this slum. The Thingangyun Slum Project built 48 shelters in the slum last year, providing clean, waterproof shelter to 48 families — 223 individuals.
For $867 you can build a new home for a family in the slum; for $285 you can fund a teacher in the Evening Study Centre for six months; for $238 you can provide a microcredit loan to a family in the slum; or for $48 you can provide business training so a family can make the most of their microcredit loan.
Jesuit Refugee Service
For many who are seeking asylum in Australia, Christmas can be a time of sorrow. Many will be conscious of family members half a world away, while others worry about their own uncertain future as they live precarious lives here in Australia.
This year, at Christmas, Jesuit Refugee Service is asking Australians to donate money to help support people like Mandy*, a mother of three who was forced to flee her home with her three children due to domestic and family violence. Mandy was able to cover her rent as well as health support, legal advice and other assistance thanks to Jesuit Refugee Service.
JRS supports around 3000 refugees and people seeking asylum each year, providing varied assistance including specialist casework, legal clinics, food, emergency relief, employment support, school engagement, English classes, temporary shelter and community activities. JRS has a women’s space for refugee women who have experienced or who are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
All of this work depends on the generosity of donors. So this Christmas consider supporting refugee families through Jesuit Refugee Service.
Jesuit Social Services
Many of us are looking forward to spending Christmas with our loved ones. But for many families, Christmas brings another reality. For those who have lost a loved one to suicide, it is a time of complex grief and great sadness.
Jesuit Social Services’ Christmas Appeal asks people to support Support After Suicide, which offers counselling, outreach, support groups and online resources tailored for children, young people and adults.
‘I remember ringing the program and just crying — I couldn’t get anything else out’, says Peter, who found help through the program after losing his partner to suicide. ‘They told me to come in later that day and it was the first time I saw someone. All the pressure up until that point was unbearable.’
Support After Suicide is significantly underfunded. The program receives no state government funding and there is a lack of certainty regarding ongoing funding provided by the federal government. It needs the help of donors to continue its work.