Launched on 8 December with the Holy Year of Mercy, Mercy in Motion is a campaign with the goal of providing 100,000 refugee and displaced people with access to education by the year 2020.
Education can help to build peace and foster the development of more resilient and cohesive societies. The $35 million raised by this campaign will give refugees the tools to contribute to their new communities, and to rebuild their own ones. Mercy in Motion will expand the educational projects of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), spanning from primary school to university, and including vocational and teacher training.
As human beings, we are at the mercy of nature, at the mercy of governments, at the mercy of leaders, at the mercy of war. We are at the mercy of forces beyond our control. Because of this human vulnerability, nearly 60 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes. They are constantly in motion: taking trucks, rafts, boats and trains; taking children, blankets, clothing and, most often, taking nothing.
But for people living in motion, even those who cannot carry things can take thoughts. They remember their families, their houses, their schools. They remember their friends, their loss, their fear. Memories and knowledge are the essential, and often only, things they can carry forever – the things which can never be taken from their minds and hearts.
Unfortunately, during emergencies, the pursuit of knowledge is most at risk. Refugees face a variety of barriers trying to access education: from overcrowding in schools to xenophobia in host communities. Their fundamental right to education is often lost. Upwards of 3.3 million Syrian children are out of school. Among refugee children, only 36 percent globally go to secondary school and less than one percent have the opportunity to pursue a higher education.
Schools provide the stability that children need to cope with the loss, fear, stress and violence experienced during times of crisis. Being in school can keep children safe and protected from risks, including gender-based violence, recruitment into armed groups, child labour and early marriage.
People living in motion eventually must stop, and when they do, they find themselves seeking mercy in their new community. Refugees must rebuild their lives, and they can do so through education.
With access to a quality education, people can better fulfil their own potential and fully contribute to the growth, strength and stability of their communities. Thus, host communities across the globe must guarantee that refugees do not lose their fundamental right to learn.
Putting our Mercy in Motion
When speaking out on the current refugee crisis, Pope Francis has said the world is suffering from a “globalization of indifference,” ignoring those who cry out for mercy. It is time to change that. “We can no longer take the suffering of others for granted,” he said. We must come together and mobilise our compassion to make a globalized difference. It is the role of each one of us to ensure those who have lost their homes do not lose their hope.
Reflecting on the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Pope has pointed out that mercy “is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality… We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity everyone is capable of.”
We must show mercy to those who are at the mercy of outside forces. We must mobilise ourselves for those who are in motion. This Jubilee year, it is time to put our Mercy in Motion.