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Great Lakes: JRS appoints new regional director
02 October 2012

Fr Isaac in a recent meeting with the JR International Director, Peter Balleis, Rome, Italy (JRS)
Despite feelings of insecurity, scarcity and vulnerability in the camp, he also remembers an appreciation for the gift of a supporting family, reliance on God's providence and living in a certain sense that one day all will be well.
Bujumbura, 2 October 2012 – This upcoming November, Isaac Kyiaka SJ will become the fourth director of the Great Lakes region for the Jesuit Refugee Service, succeeding Tony Calleja SJ who steps down after six years marked by rapid change and expansion. Fr Kyiaka, former JRS Uganda director for two years, brings a wealth of academic, practical and personal experience to the new position.

During his tenure as director, Fr Calleja opened and closed successful projects throughout the three-country JRS region: Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. JRS accompanied 18,000 Burundi refugees home from exile in Tanzania, established education and food security projects, and is now in the process of handing over responsibility for these activities to local communities.

Freeing up resources, Fr Calleja's teams were able to respond quickly to evolving crises in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Teams provided education and vocational training services, as well as emergency assistance to the most vulnerable of displaced populations.

With the end of conflict in northern Uganda allowing internally displaced persons to return home, Fr Kyiaka oversaw closure of activities in this part of the country and the shift in focus towards reinforcing assistance to destitute refugees living in the capital, Kampala. Before coming to JRS Uganda, in the 1980s Fr Kyiaka worked for the organisation in South Sudan, in Kajo Keji on the border with Uganda.

Inspired by this experience working alongside the then JRS project director, Fr Pio Ciampa, Isaac joined the Jesuit novitiate in May 1985 and took his first vows in Zambia two years later. After seven years as Novice Director in Tanzania, he continued his studies in theology in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, before specialising in pastoral theology and counselling in Begium and the United States.

Motivated to give back. Fr Isaac, a native of Moyo in northwestern Uganda, understands the complexities of war and displacement. Growing up, following the fall of former president, Idi Amin, Isaac was among the thousands of compatriots forcibly displaced. Fortunately, he and his family found safety in a refugee camp in South Sudan.

Despite feelings of "insecurity, scarcity and vulnerability" in the camp, he also remembers an "appreciation for the gift of a supporting family, reliance on God's providence and living in a certain sense that one day all will be well".

Isaac is now eager to give back as an expression of his gratitude for all that God has given him. In this reflection, he recalls an African proverb, "[t]hat hand that gives is the same hand that receives".

Press Contact Information
James Stapleton
+39 06 69 868 468