Warm Welcome for a Refugee

07 March 2017|Chrispina Maria Gracia

20 teachers and staff members of Don Bosco Junior High School Manado listening to Azizullah's story of why he became refugee (JRS Indonesia)

Manado, 3 March 2017 – JRS Indonesia brought Azizullah to this session with special permit from the IDC. That day, Azizullah told of the difficult life of Hazara people in Afghanistan, being the minority whose rights are violated and who are often treated unjustly. Longing for a life in peace, escaping threats and violence Azizullah and his friends went to seek protection in other countries. His speech made a strong impression on the teachers and staff members. Knowing about refugee issues only from the news and media, they could finally meet a cross border refugee in person. They were also quite impressed by Azizullah’s ability to speak Indonesian, even with an Manadonese accent. Some of the teachers admitted that they were not aware about refugees living in Manado. Some also shared their experience being displaced during the Ambon conflict years ago. Listening to Azizullah’s story brought back memories of that difficult time. Even though the situation was quite different, they could understand what Azizullah had been through.

Then some of the teachers asked questions; how is the refugee status determination process, who is responsible to pay for refugees’ living cost, what are their daily activities in the detention centre, and what are refugees backgrounds. JRS answered all those questions and shared that refugees come from various different backgrounds. They are just the same like us; they have families, jobs and business, some have good education degrees. Some were bachelor, and some were Ph.D candidates. But they had to abandon their education and lost everything when they left their country in search for safety.

JRS Manado facilitates community service activities for refugees who like to share their knowledge and experience to local communities. For example, one refugee from Irak is now regularly teaching Arabic language at IAIN Manado, and another one from Iran is now teaching graphic and website design at Citra Kasih Senior High School. Other refugees have also expressed their interest to be involved in community service activities.

JRS took this chance to offer this opportunity for Don Bosco School to facilitate such activities. The Headmaster of Don Bosco, Fr. Drs. Herman Mandagi, CMM showed his interest. He emphasized that the refugee is also one of the Church’s concern. The Catholic Social Teaching has boldly stated preferential option for the poor, including the refugees, those who had to flee and seek for protection in other countries. As part of the church, both teachers and staff, individually or as one school institution, have to realize their concern in real action. The school is open for refugees to teach in the English club. This can also serve as a learning opportunity for students to meet those refugees who live near them.

In his closing words, Azizullah expressed his gratefulness for being welcomed as a guest in Don Bosco Junior High School. He experienced the warmth of Manado people. Therefore he’d like to return the kindness by doing something useful for local society. “Thank you for your kindness in welcoming us, refugees. We are here to serve you with our knowledge and skill,” Azizzullah said to the teachers and staff members.

Chrispina Maria Gracia

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