8.1. Art is my Language, Though Silent it is Powerful.

Everyone closed their eyes, but we continued to whisper through the night about poetry and art. The flow of our quiet conversation was interrupted from time to time with the loud tak-tak-tak sound of raindrops falling outside. Once in a while, Farhad’s cough too punctuated the raindrops and our whispers.

Farahnaz describes art as her strength. She said it was art that healed her pain, and revived her faith in life. Holding my hand, she continued, “when you are pushed into darkness you are forced to venture out in search of a beam of hope.”

As a child Farahnaz has faced many difficulties. Afghanistan, a chaotic state, has not been able to protect its own children. The children of Afghanistan have grown up with the sound of bombs and guns. They did not have the opportunity to be children. From a small age they were forced to learn how to fight for survival. Instead of pens, guns were placed in their hands. Instead of books, religious scriptures became their late-night story tales. In Afghanistan childhood, ethnic identity and femininity are entombed in the rubble of war.

Hope and skill cannot be broken with the swords of hate. Neither both discriminates against people on the basis of ethnicity or gender. History continues to unfold itself; more identities are broken under the sharp hammer of ethnic targeting. After many years of struggle, Hazaras continue to live in fear within their own homes. Despite it all, they still cling onto their identity as a Hazara.

Broken identities must be mended if we are to live. As Farahnaz says, “they break you, you mend yourself, they break you, and you mend yourself. You have to, or else that is the end for you.” With pain simmering in her throat, she says, “sometimes I ask myself, why should I get emotional? I don’t want to think about others, but then tragic incidents take place where you cannot help but to cry. For example, when the throat of a nine-year-old child is cut open, tears start dripping no matter how cold your heart is. I wish my people lived in an environment where they did not face any challenges. I wish my throat was cut instead of a nine-year-old’s. I wish I could place a stone in my heart to not feel pain. I wish when I sleep, I can sleep with the thought that there is no Taliban.”

Farahnaz fled Afghanistan with her family in 2013. Her memory of Afghanistan is bittersweet. Bitter because like every other child, she feels that her country has drowned her childhood under bloodshed, but sweet because she has many good memories of Kabul. She says, “ I had a lot of friends there. It was different. Our friendship was special. I have a lot of grievances towards my country; despite that, it is my own home, my own country.”

I share similar feelings to her. Although I left Afghanistan when I was little, the little memory that I have of my home has survived within me as I have moved from one land to another, but I did my best to make Australia my home. The opportunity of gaining an education and having a future served as an important filler to an empty space that was carved within me as a child. In Australia I established the purpose of my living, thus why I continue to survive. It is my home now.

In Indonesia refugees live in a state of limbo. They do not know whether they will return home or find a new one. It is uncertain. As stateless people they pursue hope for a bright future through their pain and struggle. Survival has become their identity. Farahnaz says, “we must envisage an idea of a future to work towards, otherwise there is no reason to get up every morning.” Her voice is dim, forcing you to listen carefully to grab her words. She appears vulnerable, but within her vulnerability I found strength. The tone of her voice changes, she says with a magnificent strength, “but you somehow have to pull yourself out of that darkness if you are to survive.”

One day the two of us were standing in Bazaar Arab. Cars were rushing up and down. There was a ripe smell in the air – a mixture of gas, rotten fruits and vegies, and rubbish that flows down on the side of the roads. I said, “It is so busy here.” “Yeah, eventually you get used to it,” Farahnaz says.

In the first year of her stay in Indonesia, Farahnaz faced a lot of difficulties. She says, “I was crying for two months. I missed everything that was familiar to me. There was no school. Time went by very slowly. I hate that year.”

Listening to her attentively, I wanted to know more. I wanted to become familiar with each layer of pain that she was peeling. But the small blue bus came, leaving our conversation hanging. I got on, bending my head as far down as possible, but I still hit my head as I went in. Sitting next to an old lady I opened the window of the bus. I feel suffocated in small and closed areas.

Farahnaz sat opposite me. She continued with our interrupted conversation, “I hated that year, but at the same time I love that year.” I moved the muscles on my face into an expression signaling, “How is that possible?” Understanding she explained, “The difficulties and uncertainty taught me how to appreciate the changes that came into my life, especially the development that occurred in my life this year.”

We were reaching the street where we were supposed to get off. Farahnaz said, “Girri girri,” which means, “Stop stop.” The driver steered the bus to the side and stopped. We got off and started walking in a downhill street, known as Ciburial.

Curious I asked, “What changes occurred in your life?” Farahnaz answered, “I was introduced to CRLC last year. As I entered the school I realized my strength. My brother saw a post on Facebook about a school opening nearby. The next day we enrolled at the school. I started as a student, studying for Eight months. I loved that feeling. I still want to be a student. It is one of my dreams. When I was a student my teachers encouraged me in art. Miss Nagina was my biggest motivator.”

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Farahnaz with her students

She stops and looks deeply at the curtains, trying to put her vivid memories of Miss Nagina into words. She describes her as a “thoughtful and strong person,” who gave her strength. Her other inspiration is Nagina’s husband Muzafar. She says, “Muzafar always called me by the name ‘artist’. It gave me a good feeling. I was motivated. With their words I saw my future as bright. I began dreaming.”

CRLC made her faith in art stronger. Art became her saviour, giving her a voice to express her anger, sadness and happiness. She says, “When no one listens to you, you are forced to change your language. Art is my language. It gave me the voice that I was denied. Though it is silent, I feel like it is very powerful.”

But Frahanaz acknowledges that behind her love for art lies her experience as a displaced person. She says, “Displacement is a big lesson. It teaches you life. It forces you to adapt to life and raise above difficulties.”

What I see so far in this young artist’s life is a circle of connecting dots. Her childhood, experience of displacement, and art are all connected to each other. Her identity is created out of struggle and creativity, but her identity brought about this struggle.

Farahnaz is a complete person of her own. She says, “I don’t want a man behind me to be recognized as a person. I want to be known as Farahnaz and as an artist.” She mended together the broken pieces of her being with her own little hands. She wove brokenness together with the string of hope and belief.

We were sitting on the upper floor of CRLC with the curtains half open. We had our backs against the cold wall and our legs were stretched in front of us. She said, “Kobra at the beginning no one believed in me and my art but myself. It was later that others started encouraging me. My parents too started to believe in me and the strength of my art.”

With a flicker of tear shining in her eyes, she said, “My father took a picture of my artwork on our wall and put it as the wallpaper of his phone. It makes me feel happy. It encourages me to do more art.” Every time I speak with Farahnaz I get goosebumps; a chill of cold shoots through my veins. Her strength, emotion and thoughts are admirable. My heart starts dancing in joy listening to the rhythm of her enthusiasm as she speaks passionately about her dreams.

The fire of passion that has been lit within her is shining brightly. It is undying. As she says, “I don’t care, what happens. I will continue. If this place has not shattered me, nothing else can.”

Farahnaz makes sure she keeps her options open. She does not restrict herself and future to the hope that she will be accepted as a refugee and resettled in another country. Looking at me with a serious gaze, she says, “even if we are deported. Even if I do not get out of this place, I will not give up on my dreams. I will hold it with the strength and belief that I am holding it now.”

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Farahanaz’s latest artwork
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8. Meeting a Young Hazara Artist in Indonesia

I met a young Hazara artist on a rainy night.

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It was 12 o’clock midnight, outside was pitch black and I was sitting at the back of a rented car. From time to time, Khadim, who was sitting at the front, turned around and gave me information about the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre or asked me questions.

As we moved further away from the airport in Jakarta and closer to Cisarua, thousands of questions were running through my mind: How will I manage living with different refugee families? What will the first family be like? How should I approach them?

I put my head against the window; looking outside my heart was pounding as the car wheels continued to move on the road. Both my racing heart and the wheels stopped after the driver took a brake to a halt.

Looking out the window, I could see a young boy walking towards me with an umbrella. The rain was pouring down; I was holding my heavy handbag close against my chest. Confused, tired and excited all at the same time I stepped out of the car. Drops of rain fell on my face… finally I was awakened and I realised that I was in Indonesia.

The shy and smiley young man with the umbrella introduced himself as Janbaaz. He offered to take my bag, but I said “No no, its fine, I can do it myself.” He said “No you are tired, let me hold it.” We walked through a narrow alleyway that was wet with rainwater. With each step, my memories of childhood were revived. It reminded me of Kabul, when I ran on narrow snow-mud paths – giggling and dancing carelessly. The dark night and cold raindrops reminded me of the innocence and freedom of childhood. I wanted to be a child again, free and careless.

My melancholic memories of Kabul and the golden experience that I have had here makes me think – and think deeply about how we have deprived ourselves of life with formalities. We abide by codes of conduct that emphasize class rather than the beauty of existence.

Be rebellious sometimes and defy against such stifling suppression. Let yourself not lose your true nature behind the hollow representation of class. Stand on the street and buy rice inside a paper ball and eat as you get drenched under the rain. Do not deprive your tongue of the taste of food. Let your soul become imbued with the ecstasy of life and let your heart pour forth in tears and your cheeks lift in happiness for the suffering and joy of another person. This is living.

We passed the narrow alleyway, crossed two iron gates, rainy patches, green trees and finally walked up the steps of Janbaaz’s house. As I took the last step I saw many happy faces awaiting me at the door. In turn, they greeted me with kisses and hugs. The doubts and fear that I had on the way were gone with the wheels of the car.

In the first night of my stay in Indonesia, I felt at home. My heart was touched with the family’s hospitality and genuine affection. Standing, they all made a way for me to sit in the most comfortable corner of the house, all pointing and looking at one spot. I sat next to a green wall; behind me was a big painting of scattered birds and a girl with wild hair holding her face.

As an art fan I couldn’t help but to keep turning my head around and look at the strength of emotion conveyed in the painting behind me. After taking a sip of tea, I acknowledged, “this is amazing.” The mother said proudly, “It is my Farahnaz’s work.”

Farahnaz was sitting next to me. We started talking. From a slow beginning it escalated into an in-depth conversation about suffering, happiness, poetry and art. Turning my shoulders towards the wall and touching the black-dried paint I said, “this is powerful.”

For me the scattered flock of birds depict the inner reflection of the girl’s understanding of herself as a free person. Farahnaz agreed and said, “It shows the vastness of her thirst for freedom and self-expression.” Facing each other we continued to look at the wall. The girl’s dancing hair is stretched towards the birds, further emphasising her will to be free.

But as I moved my eyes from the birds to the girl, I discovered paradoxical emotions. The wildness of the girl’s hair is inconsistent with her timid body language. Her head is slightly bent and she is holding her face with her two hands, crying in the face of the reality of being “the second sex.” Her inner, free-spirited self is shackled by the chains of good and evil – reality.

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After eating dinner a little girl named Pari took me to my room. She was wearing pink shorts and a pink Hello-Kitty- shirt with a big jumper on the top. Pari is five years old. She has big, round adorable black eyes. She clings onto you, and looks deep into your eyes, making you feel like you have been embraced by pure love. Her brother, Farhad was sleeping on the floor face down, but he changed his position, curling up into a ball as he coughed, coughed and coughed.

After washing the dishes, the rest of the girls came and sat around me one by one. We chatted for a while and the 7 of us slept in one room. Despite my reluctance, they insisted that I sleep on the bed. Farahnaz slept next to me. Everyone closed their eyes, but we continued to whisper through the night about poetry and art.

To be continued….

 

7. “All the Stars are Sleeping”

Unhealed wounds and brokenness are present in every corner of Indonesia. Every family that I meet talks about how uncertainty of life here can break a person from the inside.

I have noticed that all of the parents try to hide their pain from their children. They do their best to make sure that their children are feeling at home.

When I ask them about how everything is, most of them reply, “right now our life is vague.” When I was in Lebas Buluk last weekend, Shagul was talking on the phone with my mother. She said, “هيچ تغيرات نه ميه، ستاره ها همه خاو استه,”, which means “nothing is changing, all the stars are sleep.” With a lump in her throat, she continued, “مو آوره ايم و زندگي مو تاريك,”“we are displaced, our lives are dim.”

stars are sleeping

I wish women here had the capacity to write, so that when people in the future look back at history they know how oppressive and unjust the current-day international order was. When you speak to them, they express their feelings with such authenticity. Though it is indirect, they make good use of their language. Being deprived of education, they work hard on their children, encouraging them to love learning.

A sudden change in facial expressions is very common here. Conversations shift from re-telling of life experience, to cracking jokes and always ending up on a sad note about uncertainty. When I was in Lebas Buluk, six women came and visited me at Shagul’s place. Whilst greeting me, they embraced my hand with all their worries – smiling despite the weight of pain they were all carrying on their shoulders.

Shagul made some tea and biscuits. After a while I asked them “how is your case process?” One of the women, who was sitting far from me, moved her head forward and laughingly said, “it is stuck in one place.”

Another woman with a long green skirt and flower-patterned scarf asked, “what made you come here?” I said, “I was looking for something different in life. Life seemed very systematic and dry. I want to understand the depth of human emotion…I want to know more.

We began talking about the benefits of knowing the world. The woman in the long green skirt agreed that travelling is good, but she further added, “when you travel the world, you become a full person. You get to know yourself.” I nodded my head in agreement and said, “indeed I have learnt a lot.

I asked her about her case. She had been interviewed for America. “But” she said, “you can never be sure.” I asked why. She said, “you can never tell until you are on the plane and the plane reaches its destination.” A lot of people here have such concerns. Many have been rejected after they were accepted as a refugee or after they had reached the most essential part of their case process.

Despite the hopelessness imbedded in the process, many people here remain hopeful. One step upward is celebrated joyously and everyone congratulates the person as if he or she has won a lottery. Though we must admit that existence is more important than money, life does not have a price. It is priceless.

After sipping some tea, laughing and speaking of pain, the women left Shagul’s place, departing with a tight embrace. I returned to Cisarua, but their kindness was still wrapped around me.

 

6. Remembering the Kabulian days

I was standing on the steps of a relative’s house, listening to the sound of Azaan. Though far away, I could still sense its influence on the minds of those who listen to it attentively.

From far it sounds very calm and serene, though at a closer level it is creatively vague and loud. You become familiar with the sound after staying in Indonesia for a while. Every now and then, the mullah’s voice cuts across your conversations and thoughts.

As the Azaan rings, I could imagine the traffic calming down and the roads taking a breath of content for being finally abandoned. Old and young men with white hats start making their way to the mosque – wiping off water from their arms and faces. In the midst of this, I told myself that I must write tonight when I get the chance to.

Now I am sitting in a small room, in a house in one corner of Jakarta. Everyone else, including a 7-year-old Hamida, an 8-year-old Feraidon, an 11-year-old Farid, and a mum named Shagul is sleeping. I was sitting in the living area and writing, Shagul said in a sleepy voice, “come and sit in the room, it is too hot here.” I said “I am writing, the noise will wake the kids up.” She said “the kids are used to the noise, trust me they will not wake up…come.” After arguing on this point for a while, she won and so now I am sitting in the room and writing this.

On Thursday, the 8th of January, Miss Tahira and her two children Tabasum and Zulfiqar dropped me off at the Bogor bus terminal. We left her house at 3.30 PM and got to the terminal at 6.45 PM.The Indonesian traffic is crazy, the only time it calms down is when Azaan rings for prayer. I sat on the bus and was waiting for it to start moving so I could take a nap when Khadim called.

Khadim was very excited to tell me about an idea that he was waiting to share with me for a while. We talked a lot about it. Both of us had little similarities in our view and a lot of differences. But I think our goal was the same. So we concluded with the fact that we must first define our aim and audience, and then we shall start moving towards the next steps. The net was very slow so we decided to hang up. (Note – I will write about Khadim’s plan and or the event soon).

I looked outside. The sun was gone and it was pitch dark, except dim lights were shining from the outside. The vibration from my phone woke me up from my thoughts. It was my relative Yahya. He was shouting from the other side of the phone – “where are you now.”  I shouted from my side – “I think I am at the city, I can see buildings.” He said – “are you on the bridge now.” I replied, “No I passed the bridge.” He said, “Oh damn, you are nearly here, I am living the house now, wait for me at the terminal.” He hanged up without letting me say anything; I understood that he was in a rush.

I put my phone in my bag. Suddenly the bus stopped, a lot of people stepped out. I was scared of missing my stop. So I decided to talk to the driver. Flying my arms in the air, I said “this Lebas Buluk”. The bus driver confusingly and slowly said “this no Lebas Buluk.” He pointed to a direction and said “Lebas Buluk terminal.” I understood what he meant and sat back down.

Again the bus stopped. This time I stepped out. Holding my bag tightly, I was walking along the bus area. A man was waving his hands at me, saying something in Bahasa, perhaps “hey crazy girl, only the buses are allowed to go from there, move to the side.” I thought he was a taxi driver wanting to know if I needed a lift. Shaking my head from side to side I said, “no no no…no lift.” He understood that I did not understand him, so he started using more body language, with his arms telling me move to the pedestrian pathway. Understanding what he was saying, I felt my face get a bit red. I started moving to the side – ending my conversation with the Indonesia man with a “sorry.”

Yahya called. We couldn’t find each other. There were so many small blue buses and motorcycles. I took my glasses out of my bag and started scanning for a short man with tan skin. He said come near a big white bus. After I found the big white bus I started walking towards him. We both burst into laughter when we saw each other. I started pacing towards him. He got off the motorcycle and we greeted each other with a tight embrace.

After our emotional greeting, we both sat on the motorcycle. I put my head on his shoulders, remembering the Kabulian days. Closing my eyes, I let the wind embrace my face. My thoughts were a few miles ahead, moving faster than the motorcycle, thinking of how to greet the kids and Shagul, Yahya’s wife. After-all I was seeing all of them after 11 years. I had a weird paradoxical feeling inside me –of fear and excitement, a mixture of both.

 

 

5. Ambiguity at Dusk

caged hollow

Attachment to a familiar place completes our sense of self. It gives us the hope that we have a home to return to when we step out in the morning. It is a place that we can call ours and feel comfortable to do all the deviant acts that are seen as weird in the outside. Deprivation of such familiar place can render us empty. Uncertain. Perplexed.

Asylum seekers and Refugees experience such tragic emptiness as they cross borders in search of life. There is a sense of something missing in their hearts, perhaps a nostalgia for a home in which they are safe and comfortable in. Home sweet home. Ah and how bitter is life when one is deprived of such sweetness.

In the background I could hear Tahira, a refugee woman talking with her little son. I was sitting at the balcony at dusk – watching the sun go down behind the tall and greeny trees of Cisarua, Indonesia, whilst listening to the sound of Azaan coming from far. Suddenly a wave of emotion crossed my heart, I started putting a few words together on the “notes” section of my phone, to inscribe my feelings about the uncertainty of life whilst living in limbo –

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4. Fatema and Matin’s speech on “the importance of education”

On Monday the 4th of January 2016, students, parents and teachers gathered at CRLC to celebrate the beginning of a new educational year. Six bright students at the Centre delivered inspirational speeches. Below is a script of Fatima and Matin’s speech on “the importance of education.”

In the name of the one who located us in this long journey, hello dear teachers, students and respected parents.

Luckily now days, education has got its values among families and they encourage their children to get much education than they used to. This is because they can now understand the values, importances and the beauties that education contains. They can now understand that education is not just about reading and writing. They can now understand that education is not preparation for life but education is itself life.

Education has been playing a very important role in our life. It helped everyone. It helped human to understand the universe. It helped human to cure the cureless illnesses. A person who gets a good education will become a good citizen, a more dependable worker, a right thinker and a correct decision maker.

Education has many benefits, it is lightness when you are lost in darkness and will lead you to your prosperities in your life. Education will help you to have a better career. Education will increase our personality and will give you a better moral and behaviour.

Without education human beings have no more reason to be alive. This is because they will not have their new and amazing opinions for better and more comfortable lives and to live better with less hardships and difficulties.

It means that education is the basic human lives and without education we can not  handle our life. Education is the key to the unlocked door.  It is a fortune and luck that will take you to high levels in your life.

When we have the chance of studying, then lets begin to study and be effective for the society. The interesting thing about getting education is that no one can stop you from learning.

“A child without education is like a bird that does not have wings.”

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About Matin

Matin is a 10 year old boy studying at the CRLC. Matin says he left Afghanistan because he and his family “could not have a safe life.”

Afghanistan has long been suffering from a never-ending conflict. Many asylum seekers and refugees who live in Cisarua are from Afghanistan. Matin believes he is lucky to have survived. Standing with his back against the wall, he looks down at my face and says, “I am really happy to have the chance of studying.”

He reminds me of my childhood. The first time when I was able to sit in a classroom I was beaming with pride. I studied half of my public and half of my high school at a small town in New South Wales called Griffith. I too saw my ability to gain education as a chance because I was never told that studying is my right. I am truly happy for Matin and myself, but am sad that education has become a “chance” rather than a “right.”

Matin hopes to become a pilot one-day. I asked him why. He replied, “Because I want to fly.” Matin as his brother Amir puts, “is a very smart student, but he is a little bit naughty sometimes.” I think he should be naughty because he is still a child. A child must have a childhood.

Amir and Matin nod their heads in agreement that their parents are their biggest supporters. Both of them are smart students and both have a curious mind, always asking questions. Amir says proudly, “every chance that has been given to us has been given to us by our parents. They are really helpful.”

About Fatima

Fatima is 11 years old. She enrolled at the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre in August 2014.

Fatima is always eager to answer questions raised in the class. Also she always brings her homework and asks her teachers for every small detail. Her favourite subject is arts and science. When I asked her why she likes these two subjects, she said “because they are interesting for me.”

As a young girl who understands the benefits of education she thanks the CRLC staff for making education possible for refugees in Cisarua. Her best friend is Arezo, who she describes as “a kind person.”

Fatima is encouraged by her parents and sisters to study well. She hopes to do well in the future.

3. Amir and Nazaneen’s Speech on the “Necessity of Having an Aim in Life.”

On Monday the 4th of January 2016, students, parents and teachers gathered at CRLC to celebrate the beginning of a new educational year. Six bright students at the Centre delivered inspirational speeches. Below is a script of Amir and Nazaneen’s speech on the “necessity of having an aim in life.”

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Teachers distributing new books to students and their parents at CRLC. Photographer: Janbaz Salehi

Last night when I was dreaming, I saw myself sitting on a ship without sailor and compass. We were lost in darkness and didn’t know where to go…

What is aim?

Aim…aim is to fix our target on what we want and achieve it. Everyone in the world has an aim; since the day they are born till the day they die. Even the animals have aim. A bird leaves its nest to go and find food to take their children away from starving.

We are living because we have aims. We came here because of aim, we study because we have the aim to be a successful person in future and help our people. We do everything because we have aim. An aim in life is the only fortune worth, and it is not to be found in foreign lands, but in heart itself.

Why aim is important?

Aim is important because having aim is achieving your best. Every day when we wake up we have to set an aim. Just imagine for a second what would it be like if you didn’t know what is aim? Wouldn’t life be like pen without ink. Wouldn’t it be like a body without soul?

We came here and we left our homes, our hometown, our country and our family. Why? Why parents want their children to get education? Because they have the aim that their children would be successful. So this is the importance of aim in life.

What if you do not have an aim in your life? 

If there would not be any aim in life, life would be meaningless. It would be like bicycle without handle. Aim is like the flame of candle in darkness, and life without aim is like a ship in stormy ocean without sailor and compass that don’t know where to go.  You will never know where you are [and] where you tend to go till your death arrives. It is very important for us to set our aim and then work hard on it to achieve it.

What to do to make our aim come true?

We should believe in ourselves, and work hard. Psychologists believe in [the] idea that having aim is a personal thing for a person. Some people have the habit of telling others their aim or any theory and any new ideas they have but as psychologists think and believe, telling people what is your aim is not useful. So save it inside yourself because aim is something that is yours. So keep it and never back up. There is [always] a door [to] open – so keep trying to get to achieve your aim.

Life without aim is the day without sun and the night without moon.

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About Nazaneen

Nazaneen is thirteen-year-old girl. She has been living in Indonesia for three years. She joined CRLC last year.

Nazaneen says, “I miss my homeland and my friends.” “But” she says with a smile “it is better if I focus on my future.” She looks at me and continues, “many people have lost their lives at war and others have drowned in the sea.” Like Nazaneen numerous asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia have experienced the tragedy of war. With a hopeful eye Nazaneen says, “I feel lucky that I am still alive today.”

Nazaneen is one of the brightest students at the Centre. She says, “Since I have joined CRLC I have learned a lot of new things.” Nazaneen says, “everyone has a dream and like everyone else I want to achieve my dreams.” Her dream is to be able to help people.

About Amir

Amir is an Eleven-year-old boy. He has been living in Indonesia for two and a half years, first as an asylum seeker and now as a refugee. He joined the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) in August 2014.

Amir melancholically speaks about his past, saying he “misses the old days.” But he doesn’t let his past have a negative affect on his future. He does not let his experience of displacement break his spirit. He uses his current inner pain to motivate himself and others to continue to flourish despite the hopelessness of having an uncertain future. Amir says, “Maybe it was written in our fate that we had to flee and come to Indonesia.”

I asked Amir, “What is your dream?” He said “I would like to be…” but he stopped, deeply looking at one space…thinking. After I made it obvious that I was waiting for a response, he said “I aim to be an effective person in life” and “I hope to be remembered as someone who brought a good change in the world.” Amir has big dreams. He will achieve it definitely achieve it – the shine in his eyes reassure you of this.