A Long Way to Freedom and PeaceThursday, August 9th, 2012
I met Mahani (not her real name) in her home in Indonesia. She was getting ready for lunch with her three children, 13, 7 and 6 years old. She offered us a vegetarian lunch, because Sri Lankans don’t eat meat on some special days during the year. In a small home, she spent her days taking care of her family and waiting.
“In the future I want my children to have a free and peaceful life”
While she lives in Indonesia, she learns new skills like making handicrafts, cloths and beaded bags at Church World Service over the past few months. She also learned English and about computers. While sitting on the computer at Villa 666 a center for asylum seekers and refugees run by World Relief, she started typing out her story. Here is what she wrote.
When I was a child, I had five brothers and two sisters. But two of my brothers were later killed by the Sri Lankan army.
When I was young my brothers helped me with my studies and my sisters helped me with things around the house. I had a good life and a happy childhood. After school I went on to study typing, music and shorthand.
I married my husband in 1996. I loved him very much. He was so handsome. My parents did not agree with our marriage so his parents cared for us. After we had our three children, my mother-in-law worked on a farm to save money for their educations.We were a happy family.
In 2009, a bomb destroyed our village. The Sri Lankan army was at war with the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam and Tamil communities were being destroyed.
My husband was killed by that bomb. I was heartbroken. My son was 10 and my daughters were nearly 3 and nearly 2. We were all so sad.
I went to work as a typist to care for my family, but our home was destroyed by another bomb. We went to live in a camp with half a million other people. I lived with my children in a tent for three months. My children became very sick and I contacted my mother to move in with her.
We moved to my mother’s community and my children were able to live in a house and go to school. Things were better. But then the Sri Lankan military came to our new home and took me away. They tortured me because they thought I had information that would be useful to them. They wanted me to be a translator and a typist for them but I refused.
We had to leave my mother’s village. I knew the military would keep coming after me. And I knew how dangerous it was to be a single widow in that situation. So I packed up my things and boarded a plane for Malaysia with my children. From there we took a boat to Indonesia.
Although I am safe from the military, things are very bad for us here. The house is very small and rent is very high. I can see that my children are not happy. They cannot go to school.
I know I am a good mother but sometimes I get very angry and there is so much tension in our house. Every day I wake up early in the morning and cook, go to class and sleep. I must do everything on my own.
I wait for the day we can go to a new country. In the future I want my children to have a free and peaceful life. I want them to have a good job and a good future. They have already experienced so much.
They are the most important thing to me.
(Indonesia) Paus Fransiskus berulang kali mengunjungi para pengungsi, menyapa mereka dan mendorong kepedulian terhadap mereka. Ia bahkan pernah memboyong tiga keluarga pengungsi Suriah ke Vatikan. Bagaimana pandangan dan ajaran Gereja terkait pengungsi? Continue reading
If we, as a human family, insist on only ever seeing refugees as a burden, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for solidarity that are also always opportunities for mutual learning, mutual enrichment, and mutual growth. Continue reading
Yogyakarta, 20 November 2014 – The Jesuit Refugee Service observes with deep sadness yet another sudden retroactive change in the policy of Australia towards people seeking international protection in Southeast Asia. Yesterday, the government of Australia announced its decision to … Continue reading
Together with the Community of United Volunteers Yogjakarta, JRS Indonesia took part in the emergency response in Kelud. The Community of United Volunteers Yogjakarta, comprised of a diverse group of individuals and students from Yogyakarta, work together in humanitarian disaster response, being present and providing support in the form of accompaniment, counseling activities or delivering urgently needed goods. JRS Indonesia provided funds to support the operational and expenditure of urgently need goods, also presence in the field for two days, on February 26-27, 2014. Continue reading
Celebrating 33 years of being with and serving refugees, JRS would like to encourage you to extend your hospitality and support to our brothers and sisters that are here to seek protection. Continue reading
“It’s not enough to give a sandwich if it isn’t accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one’s own two feet. Charity that does not change the situation of the poor isn’t enough. True mercy, which God gives and teaches us, calls for justice, for a way in which the poor can find a way out of poverty.” Continue reading
The Jesuit Refugee Service joined together with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and representatives of a number of faith-based organisations to call for greater protection for refugees.
The multilingual, 16-page declaration, known as an Affirmation of Welcome, is the first to involve UNHCR and a spectrum of faith-based organisations. Continue reading
In May 2013 JRS supported the SUAKA Diplomat briefing on the situation of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Indonesia. SUAKA and JRS participated in a Focus Group Discussion at the National Human Rights Commission discussing and promoting Indonesia’s ratification of the convention on the status of Refugees and its protocol. SUAKA continues to provide legal advice and accompaniment to Asylum Seekers during the RSD process mostly referrals from JRS. Currently a more comprehensive referral system is developed in a collaboration of JRS and SUAKA. Continue reading
It was Sunday evening of 9 September 2012. Twelve African men were walking toward a rather big shop in Cipayung. They were some asylum seekers from Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. Their destination, a place on the third floor of that … Continue reading
Yogyakarta, 14 November 2011 – 31 years is not short measured on a lifetime. After a 31 year journey JRS is proud of the heritage of spiritual insights from Pedro Arrupe who arouse the concern of people for the refugees. This year, JRS Indonesia celebrated its 31st anniversary in many simple ways. Continue reading