Located at St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church, the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC) is a day center for refugees in the heart of Rome. The center welcomes up to 200 guests each weekday, from 8:30 to 14:00. In 2014, we registered 337 new guests in the JNRC. In 2015, we had over 2045 people registered with the highest numbers of guests coming from Mali and Afghanistan. And in 2016, 1, 362 guests from 44 different countries registered in the center.
The scope of services offered in the center range from basic assistance to settlement support. We address the needs of the whole person. For example, on a typical day in the JNRC, a light breakfast is served at 9:30 am. Basic items such as razors, toothbrushes, socks and second hand clothing are distributed from 10:15-12:00 pm. English, Italian, and French classes challenge guests to learn and improve critical language skills. Guests enjoy foosball, ping pong, and watch movies or news bulletins from around the world. Staff and volunteers accompany guests in their struggle to rebuild their lives through ongoing art and psychotherapy programs and legal support. This spectrum of services addresses the immediate and urgent needs of newly arrived guests, as well as seeking to rebuild their lives in Rome.
The Rev. Austin K. Rios serves as the Director of the JNRC. The day-to-day operations and assistance programs are coordinated by Piero Rijtano. Tireless volunteers are the heartbeat of the center. They keep the center running daily and come from all walks of life–ranging from refugees themselves, to college students studying in Rome, to pastors on sabbatical in the Eternal City. If you are interested in volunteering with the JNRC, please contact Program and Volunteer Coordinator Daniela Morales at email@example.com