Got a brief reminder this morning from Jesuit Refugee Services about a Jesuit missing in Afghanistan now four months in the form of a letter to the teachers and students at a school in Sohadat in western Afghanistan where Father Alexis Prem Kumar was known and is missed. It follows below. And while we're keeping Father Prem in our prayers, let's remember all the abducted and missing in the Middle East, especially Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, abducted in July 2013 and Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, abducted in Aleppo in April 2013. Their status and whereabouts remain unkown. May they all be returned safely—soon.
Dear students and friends of Prem,
Delhi, 3 October 2014 – Yesterday, the 2 October marked four long months since Alexis Prem Kumar—serving with the Jesuit Refugee Service—was abducted by a group of armed men from a JRS-supported school in Sohadat, a government township for returnee families, 35 km from Herat city in western Afghanistan.
Committed to the children of Afghanistan, JRS has resumed all its formal and non-formal education programmes, including Sohadat school. Coming from a family of teachers in a tiny south Indian village, this is surely what Prem would want.
The teachers and students at Sohadat school and JRS training centres now begin their day with a prayer for the "kind Indian aid-worker" whom they miss terribly. On the day their school reopened, they made a special appeal: "give us back Mr Prem, a person we love, who took care of our education with deep dedication and compassion".
They believe he is safe somewhere in Afghanistan. Yet with no confirmed news of his captors or whereabouts, Prem's aged-father, brothers and sisters, and the many from India, Afghanistan and across the world who know and love him are rightly concerned for his health and safety.
Prem came as a dedicated teacher, a good man, a man of peace, to serve others to the best of his ability, bringing hope of a brighter future to the children and youth of Afghanistan. As we prepare to celebrate World Teachers' Day and Eid al-Adha on 5 and 6 October in Afghanistan, we ask those holding Prem captive to heed our plea and release him without delay.
The peaceful transition of power to a new government in Afghanistan on 29 September holds the promise of new a beginning. We urge the new government to take all measures possible to bring Prem back. We thank those who have tirelessly worked for his release under difficult circumstances. With all who hold him dear, we pray that Prem will soon be back, with his cheerful smile and compassionate heart, so that many more may come to share his dream of a brighter future for the children of Afghanistan.
Thank you for your support and solidarity,
Stan Fernandes SJ
JRS South Asia Director