I Wish You All the Best in the Future

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Refugees are like people who go through someone else’s property without permission and then sit down in the guest room”, says an immigration officer. “Our country doesn’t have to accept them. They don’t need to be granted with those  activities, moreover those outdoor ones. They don’t need to know our local cultures, and Indonesia isn’t obliged to equip them with the English language and any other  skills. If they get depressed, just let them leave Indonesia, return and go to wherever they want to”, firmly he adds.

Those words are lightly spoken as a spontaneous and pure reaction to an explanation a JRS staff member is giving over thereason why the JRS has been accompanying the refugees through a number of activities. What he’s said reflects the attitude and perception of some people toward those refugees, who have had to flee and try to seek asylums in another country against their own will. His statement is clear: reject and don’t bother about them.

That firm rejection prompts the JRS team to change its decision over its plans on location and outdoor activities for the refugees. Previously, they have planned the activities to be held at a resort on Wonosari, Gunung Kidul. There are concerns that a number of refugees would feel frustrated due to these changes.

The outdoor class is one of several activities the JRS is conducting in its program to accompany the refugees currently waiting for the time when a verdict allowing them to live in a third country comes. This class is recreational in nature and simultaneously acts as a means for the refugees to learn English in a relaxed manner. They are enthusiastically expecting this activity because it gives them freshness amid uncertainty and boredom they’re experiencing.

This anxiety apparently crumbles. “It’s okey, Brother”, say many of the refugees knowing the change of plan. How free and easy they’re. Of course, a minority of them decide not to join the class since they’ve often visited the appointed place. But it seems no complaints are voiced. The activity, at last, is held on Thursday 27 September 2012 at the newly chosen venue in the Gabusan Waterpark, Bantul, Yogyakarta.

“Thank you. You have done the best for this picnic”, says a refugee from Afghanistan when everybody has assembled by the bus which will take us to the place of destination. Their faces radiating happiness, they take photos in turns just before the bus departs. Indeed, I solemnly witness how they become high-spirited people. May God bless them!

At the waterpark, they could truly vent out their delight. They swim, play with floats, slide from the top through the winding channel down to the pool, enjoy the splash of water showering down from a large couldron, hang on the floats dragged by the pool current, sometimes bumping each other, cheering them up, enter an artificial cave with stalactite dripping water. That’s their way of expressing their joyfulness.  “Come on, join with us”, they shout cheerfully, inviting the English teachers to play with them in the pool. For nearly five hours the refugees enjoy their fun time in the water.

People who could best survive in their lives are those who have the best capacity of adapting themselves to any changes. Today, amazingly, I see that in each one of you”, says Lino Sanjaya, the coordinator for the outdoor class when opening the reflection session. Thank you very much for all the examples of life you have given to me this very day”, adds Lino.

In smaller groups the refugees share their reflections and feelings on this outdoor activity they have just enjoyed together.   “This is the best picnic. I am very happy today”, exclaims one of the refugees. “I like swimming very much. I enjoy this and feel very fresh”, another adds. When one of the English teachers is asking for pardon for the change of location, one of the refugees interrupts, saying,”No, no, no. We are very happy today. We will enjoy what JRS has chosen for us because we believe JRS knows the safe places and activities for us”.

Asked to write down on papers what they feel, one of them jots down at the end of his reflection a prayer as an expression of gratitude “I wish you all the best in the future”. His prayer is short and modest, but expresses all the depth and broadness of their limitless hopes.

Freedom and happiness, despite being small and modest, is a very important thing for everyone, every person. Those who like to thank God would regard this as a gift of grace. They who like to cultivate their inner selves would nurture and guard this as fertilizer for their self-growth. It would be defended and protected as one of the rights that every person, including the refugee,  should possess.

The refugees are not those who go through your house without permission and sti down at the guest room. They’re brave people, who have the courage to make highly risky decisions to save their threatened lives, and have no other choice but to knock at our doors for their lives. Would our doors be kept close and be opened up for them? We do hope, more and more hearts will care and dare to open the doors while saying the prayer they pray,”I wish you all the best in the future”. ***

Indro Suprobo

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