An IPED student’s experience with Jesuit Refugee Service- South Africa

IPED student Shane Liesegang spent nearly the entirety of his summer in South Africa, with the majority of that time spent working for the country office of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). JRS is present in 50 countries, and is devoted to accompanying, serving, and advocating for refugees– whether they be in camps or, as is the case in South Africa, urban refugees living among the rest of the population. 
Shane’s team consisted of a qualified nurse, a few nursing students, and himself. They were part of a program caring specifically for chronically ill refugees, and were assigned to a Somali-majority neighborhood in Johannesburg. Their services targeted a substantial log of patients for home health care services, financial assistance, and psychosocial support. As the only member of the group who was not a medical professional, Shane made himself useful by carrying equipment, and exercised some of the pastoral training he has received as a Jesuit for the psychosocial work. Shane further describes his experience with JRS:
“..the work was emotionally draining, but incredibly fulfilling… I was grateful for the opportunity to be there, as well as the support I received from the organization and the local Jesuit community to ensure I was maintaining my spiritual and mental health along the way. While I was placed there for the summer as part of my Jesuit formation process, nearly all the JRS workers are laypeople, so I would very much encourage any IPED student interested in development or refugee work to look at the Jesuit Refugee Service for a deeply valuable summer experience.”