Improving Housing Conditions for Refugees

Year Execution: 
2009
Country: 
Panamá
Organization in Charge: 
Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados Panamá
USD: 
18,244
Nº of Families helped: 
19
Zone: 
Urban
Description: 

Refugees coming from Colombia, indigenous people and other very vulnerable families have a hard time to survive in Darien, near the border with Colombia. Most of them are poor and many are living in an illegal status, a fact that makes it difficult for them to find normal jobs, to access public services or to integrate into the local society. SELAVIP has been assisting JRS to work with this population in the area of housing as a component of a broader programme of social development and support of "excluded" families. JRS is gradually gaining experience in the field. This year they improved the homes of 19 families (4 more than the original 15). Some families who lived far away now settled within the community or left behind environmentally unsafe locations by moving to better sites. Others now do not have to spend their small incomes to pay a rent because they own a modest home. The project started an integration based on respect, tolerance and a sense of belonging to a community. JRS also organizes workshops and other social activities so refugees, afro-descendants, indigenous and extremely poor people van meet with the rest of the population of this part of Panama. By promoting cultural exchange, acceptance of diversity and community life, JRS is working to eradicate xenophobic attitudes and exclusion in Darien. Contact: José Mendoza, jmendozaj05@yahoo.com