Levelt Michaud, SJ, National Director of the Jesuit Service for Migrants
Haiti is part of the Jesuit Province of Canada
The Jesuit Service for Migrants/Solidarité Fwontalye-Haiti (SJM/SFw-Haiti or SJM-Haiti) is a social apostolate of the Society of Jesus in Haiti. Its threefold mission is to accompany Haitian compatriots who have been turned back at the borders, to work to promote and defend the rights of migrants — the displaced persons whose dignity is not always respected in the difficult process of repatriation because they are often victims of abuse and all kinds of aggression (physical, sexual, moral, etc.) — and to contribute to the prevention of forced and irregular emigration of Haitian citizens.
The Jesuit apostolate is deeply committed to helping migrants overcome the isolation and exclusion that they so often experience.
Created on June 19, 1999, the service is particularly active in a number of sectors: migration, human rights, social transformation, and advocacy; welcoming and offering humanitarian assistance to deported migrants, returnees, and refugees, and emergency interventions; and social transformation and capacity building of grassroots community organizations.
• 39 staff members
• Collaborative work with other organization
(e.g., Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés,
UNICEF, United Nations Integrated Office
in Haiti, etc.)
• 13,182 direct beneficiaries
• 80,575 indirect beneficiaries
The Jesuit apostolate is deeply committed to helping migrants overcome the isolation and exclusion that they so often experience, along with providing necessary psychological and legal support to all displaced persons in order to ameliorate the harsh reality of those forced to return to an unbearable environment after having made the decision to migrate elsewhere.
The sociopolitical and economic situation in Haiti has become unmanageable during the past five years; and when the situation is untenable for the inhabitants of a region, they need to leave in order to find safer and more welcoming places. A wave of Haitians, mostly young people, have gone to certain Latin American countries — mainly Brazil and Chile — that apparently have more favourable conditions for migration. We have watched helplessly as the working population, the real labour and productive force of this country, has left (almost always in circumstances that are disorganized and illegal). Armed gangs reign with terror and seem to undermine the only national armed force. In recent months, insecurity has taken on a new dimension: kidnapping for ransom, directed against a large section of the population that is already distressed and mostly unemployed. This crisis situation has led to the displacement of a significant portion of the country’s population. It is within this context of deep crisis that SJM-Haiti tries to serve those who are most vulnerable.
On Monday, October 4, 2021, a devastating fire destroyed the entire building, including all physical and electronic data. Since then, in spite of everything, we continue to work because of the pressing and urgent needs.
This article is part of our newest magazine.