Melting pot of hope // Refugees in Indonesia

An unlikely mix of people landed themselves in Indonesia;
     From all over Central Asia they have come.
Many stories brief and deep I listened to,
     But one particular story pierced through my heart.
A story of how the world turned upside down for one man,
     None of which his fault;
That story made me realise my life in contrast is one of much less sorrow,
     None of which my credit.

This is the story of Ali (shared with permission):

Ali in CREC’s computer lab

He is of Hazara descent, and his forefathers were born and raised in Pakistan. When Arab was still a piece of desert, Ali’s grandfather moved there to work. Eventually, the piece of desert started forming up as UAE, and Ali’s father was offered citizenship. He thought to himself, “Why would I give up Pakistani citizenship and settle for citizenship for a desert nation?” (this was when Pakistan was in her heydays) He declined the offer, and Ali was eventually born to Pakistani citizenship.

Ali grew up in Dubai, and applied for his work visa when he turned 18. He was a witty and hardworking guy – and rose to a managerial position. He got married to a Pakistani lady, and had 2 children in Dubai. All was going well until one day; his company broke the news that they were unable to renew his work permit. Through his connections in immigration, he realised they were tightening on foreigners’ visa for managerial positions – nationalism. Left with no choice, his family relocated back to Pakistan. On the first day his child attended school in Pakistan, his child asked, ‘Teacher, can you turn on the A/C?’ and the teacher smirked.


Neighbourhood where CREC is located in Bogor, Indonesia

Persecution against the Hazaras heightened, and Ali decided to flee in a bid to protect his children’s future. Sadly, his father passed on within half a year after his family fled – but he could not return. The family began their new life a second time over in Indonesia, and his wife gave birth to their 4th child in Bogor.

Asylum seekers live in fear of being caught before having their refugee status determined. As unrest prevail, refugees are on the rise and time spent in transition cannot be accurately determined as it is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

CREC’s library

Without formal education and work, refugees can spend many idle years. In recent times, Jakarta and Bogor has seen a rise in learning centres for children and adults. Improving English language competency is of greatest priority, as all potential third countries speak English. Ali is one among other entrepreneurial and foresighted refugees who have provided opportunities for informal education to their community. And the consistent, heartening narrative I have been hearing is this: regardless of race or (ex-)nationality, everybody makes friends with everybody.

Adult English class at CREC with peoples of Pakistani, Afghan and Somali descent.

“If not for my children, I would not have run.”

How you can get involved:

Written by Danielle Poh.

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