Writer Jennifer Tomshack at the Vision Vocation Network traveled recently to Jordan and had the good fortune to see up close some of the work CNEWA (as it is known in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission) is doing on behalf of refugees.
While the West is increasingly closing its doors to desperate families who are fleeing violence with nowhere to go, there’s simply no denying there are untold numbers of decent people in dire need. I know because I met them. And I met remarkable people doing something about it.
The Pontifical Mission, along with many religious orders and local Catholic and Orthodox parishes, are working to address the crush of needs in Jordan, which has borne the brunt of this humanitarian crisis.
Jordan’s population has risen to more than 11 million from around 8 million in the last two years, largely because of refugees, taxing this poor nation, which lacks oil, and pushing its unemployment rate up to 25 percent. This predominantly Muslim country, a model of stability and religious tolerance in the region, has offered safe haven to refugees of all faiths. “For Jordanians, caring for those in need is a moral duty and part of our national character,” King Abdullah II of Jordan wrote in an op-ed piece in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. “However, today’s refugee burden is pushing us to the limits of our resources.”
I recently had the unique opportunity to visit Jordan on a media trip. One of my objectives was to bear witness to the suffering of refugees there.
I met the dedicated regional director of the Pontifical Mission, Ra’ed Bahou, the son of refugees himself. I met the women who help run the center, Amabel Sibug and Elisa Estrada, lay Teresians from the Philippines who have given decades of their lives to this place.
I met brave, scared parents. They’re educated, middle-class professionals, just like me. Their talents and ability to contribute to society are squandered while they wait to resume their lives.
Read on for more details about what CNEWA is doing.