In 2010, 17-year-old Farah’s family home in Mogadishu was burned down while she and her family were still in it. Though severely burned over her whole body, Farah was the only survivor. For a long time, Farah was hospitalized. But finally, she felt able to take the long journey that she knew she must do to survive. It was seven years after the attack that she made the long air, sea and land journey to Jakarta – as hundreds of children, teens and families have done in the past decades.
Once in Indonesia, Farah lived in a Somalian community in Jakarta and she felt a sense of peace. Yet, the lingering effects of her burns and stress of being in a new place alone made her quite ill. With no money to pay for a hospital, Farah thought her only option was bear the pain. But, when another Somali refugee told Farah that she could register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and explain her health situation, she felt hopeful about potential help. Not long after registering Farah was referred to live in the CWS-supported ASPIRASI (Aspiration) group home with other single women and girl asylum seekers and refugees. Again, living in a shared house with strangers of many different background was hard for Farah at first. So, she could get to know her housemates, and they her, she recalls, “I had to keep reliving my past, and everyone kept asking me about my burns”.
But, at least she was safe. And, as Social Workers helped Farah adjust and receive the medical services she needed, she started to feel more at home. So, when one Social Worker suggested she started taking classes, she signed up for quite a few: English, Indonesian, math, science, computer and sewing! Now, some time on, while she enjoys the classes, Farah says she remains most grateful for a safe place to live, and medical care. “I finally feel like I have a chance to improve myself. While I still get anxious, I can better handle the questions and stares when I meet new people”, she says.
Farah, and the other refugees and asylum seekers who now in CWS-supported group homes in Jakarta, all left their home countries under duress and fear, and with different histories, in hopes of a better life. Their passion for new life and resilience are what inspires CWS staff to do better in working with them, and other vulnerable refugee families, each day. Through the Protecting Urban Refugees through Empowerment project, CWS has supports activities and services, including counseling and basic health care, to help hundreds of people live lives of basic dignity and safety as they seek to sort out more positive and productive futures.
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