Katie Mars from Doylestown, Pennsylvania worked with Irish Jesuit Missions as a Programmes Support Officer until the Covid-19 pandemic put an untimely end to her stay in Ireland. She wrote this piece about her time with the team.
“When I first walked into Irish Jesuit Missions, I had no idea I was walking into a globally connected micro-system. The walls of its Upper Gardiner Street building are adorned with beautiful artwork from community partners in South Sudan, Zambia, and Cambodia, indicating the international reach of the organization.
The Irish Jesuit Missions team is small, but is passionate about and committed to the work. I had no idea on that first day, but soon the lunches that I spent with this group would become one of the things I looked forward to most each week.
Fundraising in Action
With a strong emphasis on child safeguarding and a focus on supporting education, IJM truly ‘sets the world on fire’ through creative fundraising initiatives. During my first month of work, a staff member returned from a visit to community partners in Malawi with two suitcases of ceramic eco-stoves.
While having an ‘afternoon tea’ with the team to welcome back my coworker, (a custom in the office that was novel and lovely to experience), I learned that these stoves were part of a fundraising drive at Jesuit schools throughout Ireland. By seeing these stoves, which use less wood fuel and produce less toxic smoke leading to less deforestation and respiratory illness, students would learn about life in Malawi and how they are connected to the global community.
Focus on Child Safeguarding
Even though I was completing a student internship for University College Dublin, I was treated as a full member of staff from my very first day and was given responsibility for my own projects and was given mentorship and guidance from various members of the office team. I was trusted to work on my own to complete important Child Safeguarding projects and worked directly with a partner in the Jesuit Refugee Service to enhance training materials on the topic. IJM has created resources and guidelines on the protection and safety of children that are used across the global Jesuit network.
I have worked for gender-equity in various professional setting, but I had never worked for an International Development organization or a Jesuit organization before working at IJM. Through this experience, I was able to grow my passion for development and have grown to love the foundation that the Jesuit mission provides for organizations.
Grounded in the Jesuit ideals of serving people who are marginalized and disadvantaged, Irish Jesuit Missions works with community partners across Africa and Asia to create a safer, more equitable world. Committed to addressing a range of social issues, from environment and ecological protection and development to school construction and education, the organization works closely with communities to ensure that systemic changes for good occur in a culturally appropriate and sustainable way.
An Unexpected Home From Home
When I walked through the doors my first day at Irish Jesuit Missions, I expected to find an organization committed to making the world a better place for the marginalized and disadvantaged. I expected to find people who were passionate and committed to ‘setting the world on fire’. I got everything that I expected.
But I also got a few things that I did not expect. I am so grateful for all that I was able to learn and do during my time at Irish Jesuit Missions, but mostly I am thankful for being a part of office lunches and ‘afternoon teas’ with coworkers that I know are making the world a better place every day.
I did not expect to meet a lovely group of coworkers that made Ireland feel more like a home and that made it so hard to walk out the doors of IJM my last day.”
Author: Katherine (Katie) Mars
6th May 2020
(Photo L-R: Emer. Yanira, Michelle and Katie having some fun on the day the stoves were brought back from Malawi.)