walk to school in Iraq

Helping the Refugee Never Become One

Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

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Perhaps the best way to heed Pope Francis’ call to “share the journey” of migrants and refugees is to help ensure that journey never has to begin. Millions have been driven from their homes by violence, poverty, oppression, drought, disease and despair. They did not want to leave their homes, their loved ones. Many could see no choice but to go in search of safety and dignity. So much of our work at Catholic Relief Services is aimed at giving people another choice. A good example of that is CRS Rice Bowl.

refugee family in Lebanon

The Syrian refugee crisis has been going on for six years. More than five million people have been forced to flee, many to nearby Lebanon. They often lack food, medical care and proper education. Photo by Ismail Ferdous for CRS

Founded in 1975, CRS Rice Bowl annually asks faithful Catholics to sacrifice for their brethren overseas. That money not only delivers food—it delivers seeds, tools, techniques and training that helps families stay together. Because they can grow enough food to eat and sell, a father no longer migrates to the city for work. A son doesn’t get on a leaky boat hoping to make it to Europe for a paycheck that can be sent back home. A daughter avoids human traffickers.

CRS works in countries around the world, sharing the journey of many displaced families. We know they were driven from their homes by circumstances beyond their control. So, through programs like CRS Rice Bowl, we try to help people regain control over their futures by focusing on building peace, drilling wells, distributing seeds, organizing savings groups, restoring topsoil and, in short, helping the refugee never become one.