The Rule I Like the Most

I was born 26 years ago in a desolate mountain village in Afghanistan. I did not know that life would take me one day to live a limbo life in another part of the world called Indonesia. Fortunately, my life in Afghanistan prepared me well for the challenges ahead as a refugee in an often unwelcoming world. I was supposed to start primary school in 1995 in the village where I was born. It was exactly at this time that the ... Read More

No Apple Pie but Plenty of Love

Sometimes it seems like I never learn that there are only 12 months in a year. Every year around this time I realize that Christmas is just around the corner and I’m completely unprepared, as if it’s a surprise that November is here again. All of a sudden there is scrambling to decide on holiday plans and work out logistics, to make good on vague gift ideas, to find extra pockets of time and money for end of year concerts, ... Read More

Alone in the Middle of Everyone

The first time I met Saleha and Mojgan, I was enchanted and troubled. It is rare to meet young Afghan women traveling alone, without a male protector as is the custom in the Afghan culture. These two girls, ages 21 and 16 respectively, spoke some English, although it was hard to gauge how much because they were too shy to say much to me. Although now sharing the tiny cramped room of their brother, already a student at ... Read More

Education is Worth Fighting For, for Indonesians and Refugees

On a sunny day in the attic of a red brick building, two teachers of Roshan Learning Center were ecstatically wrapping gifts of colorful school supplies. At two o’clock in the afternoon, with four crackers hung on a raffia string in the backyard, they were set to start the cracker eating competition for our primary students in light of Indonesian Independence Day. Seventy-one years ago, Indonesia fought for its ... Read More

Who is a Refugee?

Last year, more than 1 million people were forced to leave home due to conflict and make the perilous journey to seek refuge in a country not their own in Europe. The influx of refugees, mainly Syrian, to Greece, Germany, Sweden and elsewhere made daily headlines, yet the reality of their lives remained misunderstood. Many news outlets have used the terms ‘refugee’ and ‘migrant’ interchangeably; however, the terms have ... Read More

As a Refugee A short documentary by Alice Giraudi

Alice Giraudi, a Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) high school student, made this 7-minute video about what it's like to be a refugee in Jakarta. Having moved many times from country to country while growing up, Alice talks about migration and the present refugee situation featuring one of the very first teenagers in our program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R55CzleqJY8 ... Read More

Why on Earth are there Refugees in Indonesia?

There are thousands of expats who come to Jakarta each year to help the vulnerable, the down-trodden, the “least of these.” We come with hopes of lifting people out of poverty and improving health, education and livelihoods for the poor. But of course, we usually come to help the Indonesian poor, of which there are many. Indonesia’s growing economic strength belies a deep and broad population living in poverty. Therefore, ... Read More

Europe’s Migrant Crisis is a Misnomer

I have a little boy, a 6-year-old who likes Spiderman and watches that can go underwater. He has a room full of books and a playroom full of toys and lacks for nothing. We had the privilege this summer of going to Turkey on holiday, from where we took a boat to the island of Kos. Our boat was a large ferry, well constructed, lined with life jackets, and complete with drinks and popcorn for sale on board. When we got to Kos, ... Read More

Raising Awareness through a Health Clinic Day

It was the last day of a week-long summer camp at Roshan Learning Center. Inside the red brick building, children were still listening to the dentist’s explanation of the tooth decay process. Outside, teenagers were discussing their tooth problems with a health professional. Many of them hadn’t seen a dentist for a while—or ever. After his turn to get examined on a portable dental unit, teenager Mujaba (not his real name) ... Read More

One Teenager’s Journey for a Better Life Hussain's Story

Indonesia is home to more than 12,000 refugees, most hoping for asylum in Australia or the United States. Many of them live in Jakarta. Some asylum seekers live in overcrowded detention centers. The rest share small apartments scattered around the city. In these concrete apartment blocks, the refugees sit and wait, often with 15 people or more sharing a four room place. Most hope to go to Australia due to its proximity and ... Read More