At Roshan Learning Center, we are thrilled to have global attention on refugees on World Refugee Day. Here, every day is refugee day for staff and students.
For Roshan students such as Efran, whose favorite superhero is Superman, or Zayna who is goal is to be a good big sister, it doesn’t matter if it is June 20 or January 20. For them, and the more than 11 million children globally who are refugees, what matters is having a safe place to play, engaging activities, especially school, healthy parents and relatives, and reliable meals and shelter. More than half of refugee children have no school to go to.
For adults, though, June 20 is an important reminder to support and advocate for students like Efran and Zayna.
These children and their peers count on adults to speak on their behalf to elected and community leaders, to donate funds and supplies to advocacy organizations, to welcome the newly arrived, to offer pro bono professional skills, or find other ways to help immigrant families, such as providing needed rides or school supplies.
Such advocacy is vital, because as any refugee can tell you, the invisibility of refugee life adds to the struggle of finding sanctuary and acceptance. In a big city like Jakarta, most people —Indonesians and international aid agency workers alike —-have no idea they have refugees as neighbors (more than 5,000 in the Jakarta area alone). That’s true in many places across the world where asylum seekers sit and wait as governments and organizations determine where they may live, whether they may work or go to school. The wait and related depression and boredom from idleness can take years, and often in crowded and unhealthy conditions.
In the meantime, children such as Erfan or Zayna don’t have the luxury of putting childhood on hold. They have eating, growing, playing and learning to do today.
So here’s a tribute to the resilient refugee children in Indonesia and globally. We encourage you to welcome them, support them, and advocate on their behalf on June 20 and year-round. After all, their future is our future too.
At Roshan Learning Center, you can help support a refugee by sponsoring their education costs, which are roughly $50 a month or $600 a year. The amount may be low but return on the investment is incalculable.