A Journey to Find HopeWednesday, August 12th, 2015
My name is Keyhan. I am a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan now living in Australia. Before I came here, I was in Indonesia for about three years and spent my time in several places. Places that I will never forget. I came from a country which has a long history of conflict and millions of its citizens are refugees around the world. The trace of Hazara refugees can be found in many developed countries and some of us came to Indonesia to find a way to Australia. Let me tell you my journey, it is a story about finding hope.
First I arrived in Sumatra Island, a place where many asylum seekers pass through. Getting to Sumatra was one of the difficult and dangerous times in my life. Sailing in a small fishing boat with twelve other people for nights and days, without enough food and water, or toilet was like living in hell! I remember when I got off from the fishing boat, I couldn’t control myself and fell down to the ground.
From Sumatra, I was brought to Jakarta then Surabaya. I was there for 10 days, then started my journey through the Indian Ocean toward Australia. After 4 very long days of sea sickness, a storm hit our boat. We couldn’t do much but trying to hold on. It was horrible and I am sure nobody choose that danger for adventure. We had no other option. Seeking safety and trying to find safe place to live had put us in that situation.
The next morning we found ourselves surrounded by Indonesian authorities and they took us in custody and sent us back to Surabaya. I was detained in Surabaya Detention Center for about a year. It was hard to live with so many uncomfortable restrictions, not being able to wear shoes, to have contact with the outside world, or even to shave myself. Then I was released and transferred to Yogyakarta.
My experience as refugee in Yogyakarta was quite different from what I experienced in other parts of Indonesia. My bad past experiences had led me to believe that there was no good people and they only act nice because they expect something in return. But Yogyakarta and its people changed my mind and taught me to think positively.
All of my friends in JRS and IOM had a special role in building the foundation of my new life. Without their help I am sure that I would not have made it myself. In February 2013 I received bad news from home, my cousin was killed in a bomb blast in Quetta Pakistan and two other of my family had been injured, also there wasn’t any response yet from UNHCR and the Australian embassy regarding to my application. So I was really desperate and sometimes bad ideas came into my mind. But all the help and accompaniment from JRS staff and some friends I met there helped me get through with my life.
The programs that JRS offers to refugees are very helpful and it is really good that such organization exists in Yogyakarta. Since formal education is not accessible for refugees, it’s great that JRS gives us opportunity to at least learn English language. I also think that it could be good idea if Indonesian language course is provided for refugees and to introduce Indonesian culture and history to them. I got the chance to have some excursion to Kaliurang, the Palace Museum and also Gunung Merapi museum. From those visits I learned about Indonesian culture, history and the amazing nature. The Borobudur and Prambanan temples and Kaliurang were my favourite places.
After many months in Yogyakarta, my application was finally approved and I departed to Australia. I had taken a diploma in Screen and Media in Sydney TAFE College for a year, which then allowed me to apply for a university degree. Later on, with the help from Australian Department of Human Services I received a full scholarship from University of Technology Sydney. Now I really enjoy my home studying Art and Communication at the faculty of Media Art and Production. I was born in a non-educated family and I am the first generation of my family to get the chance to being thought in an academic environment. I am so grateful for this.
I am also grateful to those who have helped me. People around the world have very different views about refugees and unfortunately most are either against or don’t care at all about refugees. But we refugees and asylum seekers are also human. I really hope there will be more people caring about humanity, be kinder and respond to this refugee issue and treat us as a fellow human being.
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
It was the 20st of June, World Refugee Day, and JRS had invited to come to Sanata Dharma University Yogyakarta. About 50 people including lecturers, representatives of civil society and students from Indonesia, Thailand and Burma/Myanmar had gathered here to watch the film describing the experiences and challenges faced by refugees in their home country and in the country of asylum (Malaysia). “Personally I appreciate everyone that helps them (refugees) and accepts them in their country … these people fleeing and their voices touched everyone of us” states Lorence a student from Myanmar/Burma at Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta still touched by the stories shared through the film. Continue reading