When Accompaniment Becomes BrotherhoodSunday, December 21st, 2014
“No, full, Sir, thank you …” he said with a moving his hand onto his stomach when I offered lunch. His face looks sad but there was a line of hope in a smile. Two nights before we met in Cisarua market, Fuadi had contacted me and told about his condition. Seeing him now made me feel relieved and calm. It was because some time ago, he was severely depressed, just quiet when spoken to, and dazed.
Who would have thought a professional photographer with expertise in Photoshop software must not struggle to survive in Cisarua, Bogor. Who would have thought the father who cared for three young school girls would become severely depressed over the lack of money and right to work in Indonesia depending on the kindheartedness of a market stall owner offering him shelter, food and drink. It is hard to imagine the turn that Fuadi’s life has taken leaving his world spinning rapidly, what stays is the memory of his family or taking pictures of weddings in Quetta. The reality now is to survive in Indonesia to obtain refugee status from UNHCR. “In Pakistan, before, my life is good. But, now, …” Fuadi can only take a deep breath.
After his family could not send any more money to him he tried to find a job in Cisarua to buy food. The result, nihil, no one was willing to accept and give him a job. “I ask a photo studio but they have no work. I ask the photocopy shop, no work. I know Photoshop. I can operate a photocopy machine … ” said Fuadi. Now, he helps at one of the market stalls in return he is allowed to sleep in the store as long as he does not invite others. He gets food and drink from the owner of the kiosk as a reward for his help. “Now, I am happy. I am occupied! “Said Fuadi with a bright face and sparkling eyes.
My encounters with Fuadi are moments of companionship which I treasure. Being present as fellow human being and accompanying refugees in Indonesia teach me much about brotherhood through companionship.
I felt happiness when Fuadi started contacting me by phone; even if it was only to complain and tell me about his difficulties to sleep, it was a sign. Being present for people in their worst moments can fill the heart with empathy and love, and gives time to reflect upon human values. Now sharing stories and even laughing with Fuadi eases my mind. Enjoying the sharing of memories and experiences we became brothers, despite our different origins, no blood relationship, different religion, ethnicity or political opinion. Companionship, fraternity, the sharing of sadness and happiness charges our lives and lets us experience and live accompaniment when being with asylum seekers in their dark and bright moments. The Moment of Dawn adapted by Paulo Coelho expresses my hope for all of us in approaching others, especially asylum seekers.
A teacher gathered together his students and asked them: “How do we know the exact moment when night ends and day begins?” “It’s when, standing some way away, you can tell a sheep from a dog,” said one boy. The teacher was not content with the answer. Another student said: “No, it’s when, standing some way away, you can tell an olive tree from a fig tree.” “No, that’s not a good definition either.” “Well, what’s the right answer?” asked the boys. And the teacher said: “When a stranger approaches, and we think he is our brother, that is the moment when night ends and day begins.”
Pieter Dolle SJ
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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