Our Day Is Different With Your Presence

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Our day is different with your presence…
I have three girls what a problem! I have only one son…
Terimakasih Ka!
Thanks for your visit…Come next time…Pray for us
It’s ok even if you don’t bring anything for us, your presence is enough….to whom can we
trust?….we trust in you please…pray for us that soon we’ll be out from this cell…
We don’t belong to any nation…we are not safe anywhere, the police are always after
us…how I wish to sleep well, yet even that is hard to obtain…
Anywhere is always business, business!!!

Sr. Anna & Sr. Happy visiting detainees twice a week

These are some of the words of the detainees, which I’ve visited in one of the detention camps in Indonesia. I kept them in my heart though I struggle to take emotional distance, to be objective and remain rooted with JRS’ spirit, bringing them into my prayers. There were nights when I awake having thoughts about them with a strong desire to let them feel that I am in solidarity with them and not alien to their sufferings and desires. Hearing those words (above) both console and desolate me in one way or the other. Giving solution to their problem or even answering to their little needs, reacting angrily to the injustices that they have experienced are some of my temptations. Yet on the other hand, their gratitude, openness and trust have touched me, helped me to be enthusiastic to visit them and yes, it’s like: they are the ones giving me hope and I have to admit: they strengthen my faith to God and helped me surrender them to Him in my faith and prayers!

I started to be involved as a volunteer in JRS last July, 2012. I go there ones a week and sometimes twice a week with my community. We were asked to give special attention to the women and children through talking with them and including some informal counseling. During my first visit, I was a bit shocked. First: because it was my first time to be in a detention cell, second: it was like a prison cell since they were locked inside, third: the cell was mostly occupied by man walking around with all sorts of color and “strong” faces, fourth: I saw pregnant women and other women, children and even babies and fifth: the reality as a whole is shocking! Yeah, yeah for first timers like me, really shocking, I heard them in news yet it’s different when you’re finally there.

During that first visit, we were welcomed warmly by a Myanmar family. We were asked to enter inside their cell; we talked although they don’t know well English yet they tried to express using broken Bahasa and English. Time passed swiftly, we didn’t even notice that it was almost two hours that we were staying together. It was nice being with them. Then, came the second, the third and the next visits.

Something has disturbed me during those visits: some families would give us two medium plastics filled with food. That thing made me felt ashamed, disturbed and confused: if I reject it, they might feel insulted and on the other hand, if I accept it, it may helped them feel better, they’re not that miserable and they still have “power” because they still have something to give. It was so nice and freeing when in the next visits, I no longer see the family who I usual to visit. Why? Because they were already released!

Stories of women in the history are usually filled with adventure, heroism and love and the same goes with the women in the detention cell. If you’ve heard their stories, your heart will surely be turn apart and yet you’ll be filled with consolation with their capacity to hope, laugh, love and sacrifice. Listening to them and our presence had really made a difference with their day. They felt our care and sincerity for that trust comes naturally and they were more open to some intimate matters like how we see life, parents, families and some private things. Still there are stories left untold and some of which, I kept in my heart.

I am almost six months a JRS volunteer. What I experienced has thought me to open my eyes to a larger reality of the detainees in this small part of the world. They’ve taught me to hope and to hope, and to pray and to pray, and most of all to stay in solidarity with them. I become part, I mean I also take part of their concerns and in particular of their being…True, It’s somehow “stressful” especially now that we see more of the reality and somehow entered into it…Injustices are slowly unfolded and there is that feeling of being trapped. On one side I see the injustice and on the other side I am “powerless” in the sense that harmony and neutrality must be retained. I can’t avoid to be involved although there is a strong call to be emotionally detached and to surrender to it all. I experienced such poverty in being powerless and yet am filled with hope that our presence, JRS presence is not in vain. We’re not blind with the truth and yet we choose to spend time with them and to stand in hope with them…Listen, pray and surrender… I just do what we can do and the rest we leave to God.

Our presence as volunteers has made a difference on their day and same goes with me: they’ve made a difference on my day too.***

Anna Liza

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