Xavier Network Calls for Ceasefire and Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza

The Xavier Network strongly supports the statement issued by the Society of Jesus on March 29th condemning the on-going violence in Gaza and other areas of Israel/Palestine, spilling over into the surrounding countries in the Middle East. We echo its words: “We cannot be silent.”

As Jesuit organizations involved in responding to humanitarian crises around the world, we also express our shock at the killing of 7 aid workers who were delivering essential food aid on April 2. It is reported that 196 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since last October. This is the latest horrific event in a war in which civilians, many of them children, continue to be the main victims.

We join the Jesuits’ call for “an immediate ceasefire, for the release of all the 7 October hostages, for negotiations and for the beginning of a process that will bring freedom, liberty and justice for all in the Middle East, the only road to true peace.”

The Xavier Network brings together Jesuit mission offices and non-governmental organizations from across Europe, North America and Australia. It responds to the needs of victims of conflict, many of whom are civilians, in many parts of the world, including in Syria and Lebanon. For this reason, it is deeply disturbed by the current conflict in the Middle East, just as it also deplores the violence inflicted on innocent victims of other conflicts such as those in Sudan, South Sudan, Myanmar, Haiti, Ukraine and many other places.

The members of the Xavier Network call for:

  • an immediate ceasefire in Gaza
  • the opening of a humanitarian corridor to allow the immediate delivery of aid to Gaza with guaranteed safe passage of all aid workers
  • respect for international humanitarian law and the Geneva conventions governing the legal use of force in armed conflict
  • the unconditional release of all hostages abducted on October 7, 2023
  • an end to all arms sales which are fueling this conflict
  • the resumption of negotiations towards a political agreement which guarantees the right of the two peoples to self-determination, security and freedom

In his Easter message on March 31, Pope Francis appealed for a ceasefire: “Let us not allow the current hostilities to continue to have grave repercussions on the civil population, by now at the limit of its endurance, and above all on the children … War is always an absurdity and a defeat.”

Published 5 April 2024 – Xavier.Network

The Xavier Network brings together Jesuit mission offices and non-governmental organizations from across Europe, North America and Australia. It supports international solidarity and the universal mission of the Society of Jesus as stated in its General Congregation 36: “Our vision is to place faith, justice, and solidarity with the poor and excluded as central elements of the mission of reconciliation.” (D1 para 3)

The members of the Xavier Network are:
1- ALBOAN, Spain
2- Canadian Jesuits International, Canada
3- Entreculturas, Spain
4- Fundação Gonçalo da Silveira, Portugal
5- Irish Jesuits International, Ireland
6- Jesuit Mission Australia
7- Jesuit Missions UK
8- Jesuitenmission, Austria
9- Jesuitenmission, Germany
10- MAGIS Italy
11- Magis Americas, USA
12- Oeuvre des Missions Catholiques Française d’Asie et d’Afrique, France
13- Stiftung Jesuiten weltweit, Switzerland

Stories of Impact: Stefany

From a single school on the outskirts of Caracas, Fe y Alegría has grown into a global network of over 1,500 education centers in 22 countries. This tremendous story is only made possible, though, through small acts of generosity by many.

And through these small acts, millions of lives have been transformed.

Lives like Stefany Hernández.

Stefany’s journey began in a humble neighborhood in Puerto Ordaz (Ciudad Guayana), where opportunities were scarce. However, she found hope and direction at Escuela Básica Virgen Niña de Fe y Alegría Puerto Ordaz. It was within those walls that her potential was recognized, nurtured, and propelled forward. Education gave her the ability to dream and to fight for her goals. Education illuminated a path that would lead Stefany to extraordinary heights.

As she grew, Stefany’s passion for BMX racing ignited, and she dreamt of representing her country on the grandest stage of them all – the Olympic Games. Undeterred by the odds stacked against her, Stefany faced every challenge head-on, fueled by the knowledge that education had given her the wings to soar.

Fe y Alegría provided Stefany with more than just academics; it instilled values, cultivated resilience, and fostered a sense of community. With the support of her teachers and peers, she gained the confidence to pursue her dreams relentlessly and in 2016 she won the Bronze Medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

All these years later, Stefany carries Fe y Alegría in her heart. From putting the Fe y Alegría logo on her jersey to promoting sports programs, Stefany always finds ways to give back. “I am a lover of Fe y Alegría education,” she recently said. “It is always the same love, good energy, it is a formation of honest, hard-working, strong and very Venezuelan people.”

But this journey doesn’t end with Stefany. Every day there are thousands of girls and boys, like Stefany, whose lives are transformed through the power of education.

Thank you for supporting our work with Jesuit partners like Fe y Alegría.


Education at the Margins in Cambodia

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to spend a week in Cambodia as part of Advantere School of Management’s Purpose to Impact initiative.

It was my first time visiting Southeast Asia and I was excited.

Not excited about spending time at the temples in Siem Reap (I was) nor excited about spending a weekend in Phnom Penh with a friend from graduate school (also excited). No, what excited me most about this trip was the opportunity to spend time with Fr. Kike Figaredo, S.J.

Kike is a legend. Along with Sister Denise Coghlan, and countless others, he is widely-regarded, in Jesuit circles and others, for his humanitarian work with victims of landmines in Cambodia. As the Apostolic Prefect of Battambang, though, he is incredibly in demand. He doesn’t tend to have three days, let alone one, available on his schedule to meet with people. But here I was, along with my cohort, spending invaluable time with him and his team, learning about the tremendous work done by the Prefecture.

I’m not sure what I expected going into the trip. I imagine that I anticipated spending time at the social businesses and centers that the Prefect runs in support of individuals with disabilities. I knew that I would be working with a group from my cohort to analyze the viability of creating a rural hotel. What I did not expect, however, was to get a crash course in Cambodia’s education system.

Located roughly two hours west of Battambang, it was the epitome of Fr. José María Vélaz, S.J.’s words “where the asphalt stops”. Down bumpy, mountain roads, across a river, and in a region once controlled by the Khmer Rouge stood a simple two structure school. Here stood one of the many schools that make up the Prefect ‘s network of rural schools. Donde termina el asfalto, donde se acaba el cemento, donde no llega el agua potable.

Education is at a precarious moment in the country. While huge strides have been made to increase access to education, dropout rates, teacher shortages and learning outcomes are still major obstacles. For the 60% of the population that is under the age of 25, education is the key factor in accessing all other rights.

This experience, and the events in Nicaragua this past August, reaffirmed four of my deeply-held beliefs about education:

  1. Education is not just a fundamental human right; it is a powerful tool for social transformation. Education promotes social cohesion and stability. It fosters understanding, tolerance, and unity among diverse groups, contributing to peaceful coexistence. It is a powerful force for positive change, bridging divides and building stronger, more inclusive societies.
  2. Education is instrumental in advancing gender equality. By defending the right to education, we are dismantling barriers that hold girls and women back. We are ensuring that they have equal access to educational opportunities, enabling them to fulfill their potential and contribute to their communities and nations.
  3. Education, especially at the margins, is under attack. While hope abounds in places such as Cambodia, education is under devastating attack in other parts of the world. Nicaragua is just the latest country to stifle access to quality and inclusive education. Where access is limited, the cycle of poverty, inequality, and social instability persists.
  4. We all have a role in protecting and promoting education. Defending the right to education is not just a moral imperative; it is a responsibility we all share as global citizens. Your continued support and dedication to Jesuit education initiatives are the difference maker in places like Cambodia and Nicaragua. Together, we are shaping a brighter future, one where education unlocks doors of opportunity for countless individuals and entire communities.

The work being done by the Prefect of Battambang, and more recently Fe y Alegría, is just one more example of the work being done by the Jesuits to ensure access to quality and inclusive education at the margins. To ensure education for the poor is not a poor education. Thank you for being part of this vital mission to support Jesuit education initiatives at the margins.