Servico Jesuíta aos Refugiados – JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) plays a crucial role in the process of migrant population integration in Lisbon. JRS offers a large variety of services that extend from legal assistance to social, vocational, medical and psychological support to the migrant people. The results of JRS’s work can be described through serious dedication, professionalism and empathy that guide the staff members of JRS in their work with migrants. Carlota Muralha of JPS Employment Office summarises her motivation to work for the organisation: “For me the most gratifying part is to witness the empowerment of people, how they develop their skills and capabilities, and how they gradually recover their dignity to become members of our society.”
JRS has managed several collaboration projects such as CLIMB – Local Support Centre for Migrant Integration; Fica Bem Entre Linhas; language learning, vocational and employment fostering activities as well as cultural variety and social network building.
In all of the work that JRS is doing, there is an important aspect that should not be overlooked – social networking and cultural diversity. Providing the environment to facilitate social and cultural network building is crucial for migrants who often arrive alone to the country and miss out on important family and social ties. The project Fica Bem Entre Linhas (Looks Good Between the Lines) offers an opportunity to create social networks and build trustful relationships through participation in professional workshops. JRS Social Worker Bárbara Barroso explains: “We have this group of six migrant women, who gather weekly to have morning sessions. The sessions are essentially sewing workshops, but they have now also established biweekly knowledge sharing events that are led by each of them. They feel comfortable and motivated to attend the sessions and they also feel useful and respected as human beings. Hence, among other objectives, one of the goals of the project was to also promote supportive network building.
In this video, JRS workers testify on the rationale of their projects, the relevance of their work approaches but also the mutual benefits that local people, social workers and newcomers get from these collaborations.