Reflection: My experience with urban refugees in Indonesia

14 June 2016

(Clockwise) Dion, Gifttra, Rani, Diah, Dony, Ririn, Risha, Elis, and Rosi in front of JRS House.

My name is Gifttra, an IT student from President University. I am now in my last period of study, and I am in an ongoing formation process of Magis Jakarta, a community that helps me to know more about God. This community offers me an array of different methods in searching for God. One of it is immersion, learning while living with marginalized communities. I was placed in JRS Bogor together with my 3 friends Risha, Dony, and Ririn.

When we arrived at the JRS’ house, Gading, Elis, Diah, and Rani from JRS greeted us. Then brother Dion came and gave us short orientation about JRS and the refugee situation.

We immediately followed JRS’ activities that day. We headed to Ciawi Public Hospital. There Dion and I went to meet Musa, an Afghani man. He came to accompany his 46 years old mother for her cervical cancer treatment. We talked about many things with him. One thing I learned about Musa was that he really loves his mother. He was also a very smart and creative man who encouraged other refugees to provide education for refugee children in that area.

Then we went to see Maya, a 12 years old Afghani girl. She has Down syndrome and was hospitalized for few days because of epilepsy. After hearing Dion’s story about her, I was so amazed on how God worked for her and her family. Few days ago Maya was in a coma, doctors had even already asked her family to be prepared to loose her. But God had another plan and she recovered. I saw it with my own eyes that Maya could go home cheerfully.

We also visited Rasid, a 20 years old refugee from Afghanistan, to give him assistance for food and shelter. When we came to see him, Rasid looked really stressed. A day earlier, he went to UNHCR office in Jakarta for his resettlement application, but before he got to see the officer, he had to persuade the security guards. I hope our presence could serve as refreshment for Rasid to continue his life from the assistance and accompaniment given by JRS.

On the second day, Diah took me to JRS Learning Centre. I joined an English class facilitated by brother Afsar. In that session all students were invited to practice English by discussing about a topic, “Should parents save money for their children or just spend the money for themselves?” Three Afghani brothers and I were exchanging arguments and expressing our opinions about it. The discussion was very lively and we could express ourselves really well.

From JRS Learning Centre, we continued our service by visiting an Afghani family who applied for assistance to cover their daily needs. JRS went there for a need assessment. The head of the family was Syarif; he took his family to Indonesia to avoid persecution from the Taliban. After they have arrived in Indonesia, they faced another challenge. Their economic condition was very alarming. They struggled with their finances and couldn’t understand the exchange rate. Moreover, their 4 years old twins were malnourished and often hospitalized. The parents could eat only once per day.

In the evening, Diah and I continue our journey to brother Afsar’s place. As soon as we got there, brother Afsar served us some dates, warm coffee, and biscuits. On the third day, we ended our short experience with JRS by having a big delicious lunch with all JRS staff, and then we said goodbye and left Bogor.

*Names of refugees and asylum seekers have been changed to protect identities
* Original article on JRS Indonesia website.

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