A Day in the Life of a JRS VolunteerSunday, December 21st, 2014
It’s Wednesday or Thursday, 10am. I get on my motorbike and head south through the city of Yogyakarta. I eventually arrive at the refugee centre in Sewon. I drive through the gate, say good morning to the security, and park up. I jump off and head to the classroom. Space is limited, so maybe our class will be in the kitchen today, either way, English class will happen!
I am greeted by many friendly handshakes. I’ve gladly become a familiar face for the refugees living in Sewon who call me anything from Sarah to Miss Sarah or Miss Teacher. Whatever they call me, I’m pretty sure they are happy to see me and the feeling is mutual. I then meet the regular teachers who have been faithfully teaching English to the refugees here for various lengths of time, and they are also wearing a big smile. Ready to chat about a great variety of topics from our childhood pets to cows falling from the sky, I sit with the teacher whose class I will be joining for the morning. The students for that class come in, English folder in hand, ready for whatever challenge is coming their way in the next couple of hours.
Maybe we are doing a language game, or a test, or some happy compromise of the two. If we’re doing a game today, there will be lots of laughing. There are many jokes between us all about cheating, but at the end of the day, if one of us doesn’t understand, there will always be somebody to explain and encourage, whether that is the teacher, myself or a fellow refugee. Because life is sweeter when it’s lived together. If it’s a Wednesday there are Burmese refugees in my class, so I try my best to practise my somewhat waning Burmese language, and sometimes a few Indonesian words are thrown in for good measure. But in general, English is the name of the game. During these two hours, I smile a lot. I smile because of the funny times we share. I smile because of the progress made in their English language. And I smile because I realise that these guys are becoming more and more comfortable with me being a part of their class as we share just a snippet of life together.
English class comes to an end. Maybe we study some Indonesian language together as well, because, although English is probably more helpful in the long run, these people are living in Indonesia right now. After class, we chat together, with other teachers and refugees. Maybe some of the refugees invite us to their accommodation to eat lunch together. I am excited to try some new food from another country, and it never disappoints. I am fed seconds, thirds, until I can’t possibly eat another thing. We chat, sometimes we talk about their home countries, and other times we talk about my home country of England. Sometimes we joke, but other times I’m lost for words when these people, who are becoming like brothers to me, share parts of their stories and put my miniscule hardships into perspective once again.
Sooner or later, I head back to my comfortable life as an abroad student at one of Indonesia’s best universities. Back past security, I call out goodbye as I take to the road, past the paddy fields and onto Yogyakarta’s busy city roads. But out of sight definitely does not mean out of mind. As I ride, I pray mostly for the guys in my class, that they would have peace in their difficult times, that all their needs would be provided for, and that they will not lose hope during this long process.
(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