After finding her way to Indonesia through a long air, sea and land journey, 45-year-old Khadra (not her real name) reached Jakarta, Indonesia feeling alone and lost. The story of how she travelled to Jakarta is a long and winding one – just like the journey itself. But, to fast forward to her success story, here is the summary: it was through connections had made before leaving her homeland that Khadra found other Somali refugees in Jakarta and used information they shared about the need to go to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) office to register as an asylum seeker. Since she is illiterate, Khadra was lucky to find someone to help her complete registration documents.
“Since I never attended school, I am a bit of a blind woman here”, said Khadra, who was born in an extremely remote village of just six families. The nearest town was a three-hour walk away and, even if she had been permitted, and able, to walk that distance to a school, it was impossible because the family had no money.
Once Khadra was referred by the UNHCR and settled into a CWS-supported group home, she learned that, for the first time in her life, education was available to her. At first, she had her doubts when a Social Worker told her about all of the learning opportunities. “At my age, I did not think I could join these activities. But then I realized that age doesn’t matter. It all depends on your commitment”. So, Khadra set out to learn how to read and write, staring with phonics classes. Her commitment to learn was so great that these classes were not enough for her. She wanted to study more and more, so a CWS team member showed Khadra how to use a computer to study the alphabet on her own after classes ended each day. As her reading abilities grew, Khadra started reading and she practiced writing in paper exercise books. Now, Khadra can read basic sentences, and is certain, that “age should never prevent you from learning. It is a lifelong process and an opportunity to not be missed. You just have to persevere”.
Education and skills development are an integral part of life for women, girls and boys in CWS-supported group homes. There are English, Indonesian, math, science and computer classes. And, life skills development opportunities help residents strengthen their readiness to live independently. Twenty-four women and girls are now living in a group home in Jakarta as are 45 unaccompanied asylum-seeking boys. All have a chance to develop new skills such as sewing, cosmetology, computer coding/programing, basic automotive mechanics and mobile phone repair. They also have a chance to study and practice arts and crafts, and to enjoy sports and yoga which, in their otherwise difficult and challenging lives, all the girls, boys and women do appreciate.
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