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Accompany • Serve • Advocate


JRS Singapore's Current Projects:


1990 to Current: Urban Refugee Program in Bangkok, Thailand

2004 to Current: Project Damak, Nepal for Bhutanese Refugees

2006 to Current: Project Mae Sot for Burmese Refugees  *LATEST - Trip Report Aug 2015

2008 to Current: Project Myitkyina for Burmese Teacher Training

2014 to Current: Project Manado, Indonesia for English Language Lessons


For queries on JRS Singapore and our projects, please email us at countryrep@jrssg.org

For information on how to support our projects through donations, visit us at Fundraising



Urban Refugee Programme (URP) in Bangkok, Thailand




Many people flee their homes due to violence, conflict and poverty in the hope of being resettled in another country and many end up in Bangkok to apply for refugee status from the UNHCR. Until they are resettled in their sponsor countries, which may take 2 to 3 years, they are vulnerable and can be arrested and locked up in the Bangkok IDC for overstaying. Women, including expectant mothers, children, the elderly and the sick would be detained in the IDC if arrested, even when they have been accepted for re-settlement. The people sent to the IDC also include victims of human trafficking and overstayers.


In 1990, JRS Thailand set up the Urban Refugee Programme to support urban refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Bangkok through emergency and casework assistance, psychosocial counselling, legal services, and community capacity building. It runs a medical clinic in the IDC stocked with regular medicine, sponsors free chest X-rays and TB screening twice a year and provides daily supplementary meals for the weak and vulnerable. JRS Thailand also pays for bail-bonds to prevent vulnerable refugees (e.g. sick, pregnant mothers, elderly and children) from being detained besides helping with applications for refugee status with UNHCR. Once a month, JRS Thailand helps organize a Mass at the IDC and a family day for separated families to meet.


In 2014, JRS Singapore and Church of the Risen Christ collaborated on Project URGE to raise funds for URP.


Learn more about the URP here. To donate to PROJECT URGE, download the form here.


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Project Damak: A Brief History of the Bhutanese Refugee Crisis




Bhutan is a nation of several ethnic groups. One of these is the Lhotshampa, people of Nepali origin, who began to settle in the south of the country in the late 19th century. In the 1980s the Lhotshampas were seen as a threat to the political order.


When a string of measures were passed which discriminated against their group, the Lhotshampa organised a series of public demonstrations and were thus branded "anti-nationals". Several thousand Southern Bhutanese were imprisoned, and more than 2,000 tortured, according to Amnesty International but very few were formally charged. Thousands fled to India and Nepal and by the end of 1992, there were more than 80,000 living in UNHCR camps in south eastern Nepal.


Michael Hutt, Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, has written a brief outline of the events which led to the refugee crisis covering ethnic diversity, settlement, government repression and expulsion of the Southern Bhutanese, verification exercise and the ongoing situation.


Bhutanese Refugees in Damak, Nepal - Child Play Centers (CPCs)

In July 2014, about 925 Bhutanese refugee children from four Child Play Centers in Damak, Nepal received uniforms and school bags before the start of the new term. The children beamed with joy as they clung to their precious gifts as they gained new self esteem.


Since 2004, JRS Singapore has been supporting the CPCs by raising funds and collaborating with churches and ministries to provide a decent environment for for playing and learning. In the latest effort, JRS Singapore collaborated with the Liturgy of the Word for Children Ministry and the Japanese Catholic Group of the Church of St. Ignatius, Singapore to raise funds for uniforms and bags.


JRS Nepal is very grateful for the continued support of all donors and collaborators of JRS Singapore and we continue to support them in trying to improve the lives of the remaining refugees.


Bhutanese Refugee Education Programme (BREP)

Caritas Nepal accompanied and assisted the refugees upon their arrival at the Maidhar River bed in Nepal. When the refugee camps were formally established by UNHCR, Caritas Nepal was requested to be its implementing partner in establishing formal education in the camps. This lead to the establishment of a sub-office at Damak. which now implements the Bhutanese Refugee Education Programme (BREP) run by JRS Nepal.


In 2009, Caritas Nepal operated 15 sector schools, 12 extension schools and 9 main schools in the camps with 26,857 students. The numbers have since decreased from resettlement of families in the past few years.


UNHCR funds the education from pre-primary ( ages 5 - 6 years) to Class VIII, Caritas Nepal funds the secondary education of classes IX & X with the assistance of donor agencies such to as Caritas International, Caritas Germany, Caritas Australia, Caritas Italy and Caritas Spain and JRS Singapore funds the nursery level classes.


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Project Mae Sot for Sustainable Livelihoods

The Karen communities in Mae Sot, Thailand are from the Burmese townships of Myawaddy, Shwe Hko Ko, Htee Kya Rar, Poung, Hpa-an, Hlaingbwe, Kawkareik, Pago – Nayaunglebin, Kyaikmaraw and Poungare. They were forcibly displaced by the ongoing armed conflict, violence and abuse from the Burmese military and other armed groups which has resulted in documented cases of forced labour, taxation, torture, murder and rape of women. They fled to Thailand by walking through the jungle for 4 to 5 days till they reached the border town of Myawaddy and then entered Mae Sot by crossing the Moei River.


The displaced persons living in Mae Sot face other challenges such as deep tension between the Thai and Burmese communities as well as a lack of trust within the Burmese community. Many suffer severe stress and psychological problems resulting in high rates of alcoholism and domestic violence. They work illegally for meagre wages due to their status and are thus often exploited and physically abused by their employers. Therefore, they cannot afford to pay the high fees for migrant registration. Their living conditions are abysmal with no proper toilet facilities and limited access to electricity and water.


JRS Singapore Support and Objectives

As the majority of non-governmental organizations in Mae Sot focus their services on the nearby refugee camps, there is little support for those living outside of the camps. JRS remains one of the few International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) supporting CDPs in the rural areas of Mae Sot, Prob Pra and Mae Ramat and is a consistent presence in the Mae Sot immigration and police detention centers. JRS provides food and material support to detainees, negotiate deportations when possible, and works to improve detention conditions.


JRS has the following outcome-based objectives in Mae Sot:

A –To increase sustainable livelihood opportunities for migrants and migrant organizations by strengthening their skills through vocational trainings and establishing Income-Generating Activities (IGAs).


B – To increase migrants’ knowledge and awareness on rights and responsibilities by partnering with Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to conduct small group discussions and trainings.


C – To promote social coherence and strengthen their relationships with local authorities and other stakeholders thus reducing their vulnerability.


D – To assist and provide protection through emergency assistance.


Mae Sot Refugees   Mae Sot Refugees 1


Visit to Arakan Labor Committee (ALC)

In September 2014, members of JRS Singapore and JRS Mae Sot visited the area to survey the actual situation and record the progress of the funded projects namely to the ALC. The ALC targets to increase migrants’ knowledge on Thai labor laws enabling their application to their daily lives. They also update migrants’ knowledge on emergency issues and provide sewing and computer training.


Maesot Visit  Maesot Visit1  Maesot Visit2


Visit to Burmese Families Supported by JRS

JRS members visited families in the sustainable livelihood programme (pig breeding and noodle-making for sale to other migrants). Income generated will in turn be used to buy piglets for other members to start pig breeding.


Maesot Visit5  Maesot Visit4


Visit to Overseas Irrawaddy Association (OIA)

The OIA is a community-based organization with over 400 members spread over a large area. It has extensive knowledge, understanding and established relationships of the displaced persons and strong working relationships with local employers, Thai authorities, religious leaders and other community members. It is a valuable partner in the implementation of training programs and job-placements, in the identification of vulnerable individuals, the delivery of emergency assistance (such as during factory raids and domestic violence incidents) and the holding of sociocultural events to promote integration.


Maesot Visit7  


Visit to Arakan Worker Union (AWU)

AWU serves all migrants regardless of ethnicity and aims to address and help overcome difficulties faced by migrants through advocacy and training. In 2013, JRS supported AWU in organizing workshops and provide startup materials for women’s health and labor rights.


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Project Myitkyina for Burmese Teacher Training

Pa La Na     

Late last year, JRS volunteers visited the Pa La Na Teachers Training Centre to impart knowledge and skills to trainee teachers. Over two seperate visits, 19 trainee teachers aged 17 to 25 years were taught the use of group work in the classroom and science-project based learning. When completed, trainees had the following outcomes:

• Familiarity with 3 types of groupwork and science based project work (SBPW)

• Ability to understand the rationale for use of groupwork and SBPW

• Ability to design lesson plans incorporating groupwork and SBPW

• Appreciation of everyday resources and recycled products in making useful products such as stoves,   detergents, repellents and sugar

• Review of lessons/activities using KISS (Keep, Improve, Stop, Start)

fuel efficient




Left: “The stoves will be used in the Staff House and also in the trainees’ hostel so that the trainees can boil water in the morning because it is so cold when they wake up.” ~ Irene Ho, JRS Myanmar Director

Below: To make waste become precious stones!” Peter Seng Yaw, a trainee, exclaimed as he was filled with wonder on realising the value of kitchen waste. Pu Tsam, another enthusiastic trainee said, "I will bring the sugar-syrup idea home during the Christmas break and try with other types of grains.”


garbage enzymes syrup

Trainees, Facilitators

Above: “Trainees were mostly very animated; several had excellent presentation skills.” ~ Jocelyn

“The trainees are a delight to teach because they are so open to learning

despite the difficult situations that they may be in” ~ Doris

Human Trafficking (HT) & Leadership Training in Myitkyina

Report Writing Report Writing

In January 2015, an awareness training on Human Trafficking was conducted to 34 participants, including trainee teachers, community leaders in the diocese and interpreters.

The training included role-play, discussions and reviews. The outcome was very encouraging and we hope trained participants will go on to share their learnings besides making use of their newfound knowledge. High potential candidates will be identified for further training at year-end 2015.

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Project Manado for English Language Training

Commencing March 2015, JRS Manado with the support of JRS Singapore, will conduct basic level English Language classes for the immigration officers at the Immigration Detention Centre in Manado, Indonesia.


The objective of the project is to teach the immigration officers English in order to help them communicate with the detainees at the centre thus enabling better assistance. The majority of the detainees are asylum seekers, mostly from Afghanistan, Philippines, Myanmar and other Middle East countries. The teaching of values is also incorporated into the lessons.


The JRS Singapore team, led by Thomas Flinchum and Ingrid Suwandi, were responsible in preparing the course curriculum, lessons plans and guidance on the teaching of English. JRS Singapore donated books and magazines for the setup of a library in the detention centre to serve both the immigration officers and detainees.


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