Abdo (not his real name) is the youngest of 8 children in a Sudanese family, and he was just one year old when his mother and siblings had to flee with him to a refugee camp after their village was burned down in the ongoing sectarian violence that plagues their country. Abdo lived in the camp for 13 years until, traveling by bus and plane and after many stops along the way, he made his way to Jakarta on his own.
Being homeless, but in touch with other asylum seekers who knew how to seek help, he found the UN High Commissioner for Refugees office and was referred to a CWS-supported home for unaccompanied and separated children like him. With no knowledge of either English or Indonesian, Abdo initially found it hard to adjust to life in Jakarta. But some other children in his new home speak Arabic, which is his native language, and they helped him get settled, and now Abdo is learning English at home and in a second class at the Health and Education Learning Program, which is an initiative led by refugees who want to HELP others.
In talking more generally about his life since reaching Jakarta, Abdo noted, “The contrast between living outside and living inside the group-home is like night and day. In the home I feels safe and secure, I have classes to join, and I can go to a clinic if I’m sick. Also, I have learned a lot from the Social Workers, who give me advice about many things: learning Indonesian language, customs and culture, advice on life, and lots of encouragement.”
To help older children living in group homes that we manage. CWS also organizes vocational skills training and support for developing positive work habits so they can become self-reliant in the future. Wanting to be sure he is ready for his own future, Abdo is now taking a hairdressing course with one of Jakarta’s leading hair dressers, Johnny Andrean, who operates a chain of salons across Indonesia. “I had never thought of hairdressing before the idea was presented to me here; but now I am really glad for the training. I like learning, and I hope that this will help me build a future for myself. Of course, I never imagined I would enjoy hairdressing this much!”
In thinking again about his life situation now, Abdo offered this advice to other refugees, “Take the chances you are given – because another chance might not come.” To CWS staff who work with nearly 150 children who are in Jakarta on their own, Abdo is really taking his own advice and living by it; he is one of the most active boys in his home – and an inspiration to all of us.
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