Recently we hosted a big number of students from Raffles Christian School Pondok Indah Campus. It is a privilege to have such a caring and compassionate community around us. The students spent some memorable time together for two days sharing ideas and stories; playing games, and building new friendships. “The purpose of this collaboration was to provide Raffles students with relevant knowledge on the social impact of refugees in Indonesia and to analyse the problems and the proposed solutions for refugees and CRLC. Also, we wanted to improve our students' communication skills when engaging with other children. In doing so, we managed to foster a sense of compassion and selflessness towards each other”. Mr. Taufeek head of the school
Life is full of tests and challenges. How we respond to them what determines our success and failure. Today was our second assessment of 2018 as students prepared for it. Examinations encourage students to learn and develop positive thinking which elevates students’ skills and help them to overcome obstacles.
There are many wounds in the refugee community: lost parents, brothers, sisters, dreams and childhood’s abound. There is also a wound, strongly felt in the Australian community, around Australia’s refugee offshore detention policy. Grandmother’s for Refugees, Mums for Refugees, Rural Australian’s for Refugees are all refugee advocacy groups tens of thousands strong who, in an attempt to change Australia’s refugee policy, have spent years placarding, protesting and letter writing. It is a policy which has caused terrible suffering to some of the most vulnerable people on this Earth.
Most Australians have accepted ‘the policy’ as a necessary evil, but almost none are pleased about it and refugee policy is still an everyday major issue in newspapers, on TV and radio, and in politics. I believe this is because we feel the pain deeply. It is a wound against our Australian ideals of a fair go, a stain on our lucky country, and it challenges our belief that we value human rights more than most others. Our immigration ministers say that no-one wants to lock people up in offshore detention – but they are. So refugee policy remains on the Australian political agenda, and the advocates continue to placard and write letters.
There are wounds on both sides. Those felt by the refugees escaping war and instability and those felt by the quietly, and not-so quietly, horrified Australian public. But there is a light entering those wounds, and it is led by the refugees. A borderless community is being created, and it is helping to heal those wounds.
After Australia ‘stopped the boats’, about 15,000 refugees were stuck in Indonesia. Some were planning to take a boat to Christmas Island, while others planned to wait it out in the years-long UNHCR queue. However, with the new Australian policy, they found themselves stuck. UNHCR resettlement spots dwindled and, if the end result was detention on a remote island, the 50/50 risk presented by the boats wasn’t worth it.
A small group of refugees decided to take matters into their own hands and started their own school for refugees. One refugee, Muzafar Ali, had worked for the UN in Afghanistan helping to provide education for prisoners. He knew that if prisoners could have an education, so could the refugees. It was a human right and nobody could stop them. The first school was humble: two small rooms, a few books, and a few under-qualified volunteer refugee teachers. They started anyway and the school was an instant hit. There were 50 students on the waiting list within a week. Australian’s living in Jakarta (I was one of them) quickly became aware of the school and rallied to help rent a bigger space, the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) was born.
The CRLC became a magnet for Australians bypassing their government’s policies. Every year between 200 to 300 Australians make the trip to Cisarua, about two hours outside of Jakarta, to meet the refugees. They reach out to connect with, and support, the refugees’ initiative. At the same time they are healing the wound they feel on Australia’s soul. They play football together, become interns and teachers, and have meals together. Some stay up to six months and live with the refugees. All the while they learn from, and about, refugees. They meet people dedicated to education, people who just want a safe place to contribute, and they make life-long friends. When they return, they carry this knowledge back to Australia.
In August 2018, the school celebrated its fourth anniversary. Many refugee kids went to school for the first time at the CRLC. The volunteer teachers received training from the New South Wales Teacher’s Federation, University of Technology in Sydney, Australian Education Union, Australian Intercultural School in Jakarta, and many others. The education levels are now comparable to any average Australian primary school. The wound is still there, but connection, community and education is bringing some light, and helping to sustain hope. Other refugees in Indonesia have watched the success of the CRLC and have started similar schools. As of August 2018, there are 14 refugee-led education centres, teaching over 1,500 refugees and managed by around 100 volunteer refugee teachers.
The refugee-led schools in Indonesia offer us, as Australians, an opportunity for learning, connection and friendship. While we continue to advocate for those stuck on Manus and Nauru, the refugees in Indonesia have presented us with an opportunity to show our government how we, the Australian People, believe we should act towards others in need.
Find out more at Cisarualearning.com and watch our film at thestagingpost.com.au
One of the most valuable parts of volunteering in transit is receiving training based on different agendas. This year we received training on teaching Social Sciences, and on how to use technology in the classroom. Social science is an important part of our curriculum, it helps our students to understand the world and to develop critical thinking. Today, being able to use technology is an essential foundation for all students. Learning how to integrate technology in the classroom has helped to make study easier, more fun and more effective. We also received Child Protection and Safety Awareness Training from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). As we work with children of all ages it is important to be aware of children’s rights, safety and protection and to ensure a nurturing and peaceful environment for all the children. Now every single member of CRLC has knowledge of child protection and what we can do as teachers to keep them safe. We wholeheartedly thank UTS for the ongoing Teacher Training and look forward to further training to help us serve the community and children the best we can.
We had a meeting with the students and professors from the Defence University Sentul Bogor to discuss about the refugee situation in Cisarua and the relationship with locals. They came here to educate themselves about refugees and learn how the local Indonesians see refugees living here.
The head of Tugu Utara, Pak Asep, RT Suhendra and many other locals joined the meeting. It was absolutely pleasing that the locals were happy with the refugees living in Cisarua. “I know the reason why refugees live here, how they communicate and survive here. The society here accepts all the refugees as their brothers and sisters. We love that all refugees live in peace here.” Pak Asep.
Muzafar, Khadim and I are nearing the end of our epic Refugee Week 2018 Staging Post Screening Tour. We have had the most incredible time traveling to Bega, Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bedigo, Armidale, Warrawong and more. We have been energised and enthused by the warmth and love we have received. As an Australian, I am especially encouraged. We are sure that the #CRLCFamily has grown in the past two weeks.
Now it is the time to ask you to support our charity, Cisarua Learning. Please help us become a viable and long-term charity through our Chuffed fundraising campaign. We are a fully registered Public Benevolent Institution and all donations are tax deductible.
Please be generous as we have a lot of work to do in Indonesia. The UNHCR has told the refugees they will be there up to 25 years and we are determined to accompany the refugees for as long as they need, and to continue the support the incredible successes they have had so far.
Beow are some photos from the tour so far and also a fundraising video made by a trio of tired, dusty and croaky filmmakers.
Thanks to all our supporters, big and small, near and far. We love you and thanks for being a part of our journey so far. Please share this video as widely as you can!
This is just the beginning.
Jolyon, Muzafar and Khadim
Today is another big day for the CRLC family as we resume activities after a long break. The excitement of returning to classes is evident on the faces of all the children who are so happy to see their friends and teachers again.
“I tried to be at school an hour earlier to capture some photos of students and ask about their break. But when I reached the Learning Centre around 20% of the students had already entered the building with enthusiasm and happy faces.” Said our Media Manager.
Meet Henry Rajendra, one of the first supporters.
Henry visited our learning centre a month after we started. In collaboration with New South Wales Teachers Federation and Australian Education Union, he arranged teacher trainers for our teachers.
Ever since he is following our journey, a great supporter, and most of all, raising our voice in Australia. Tonight he spoke strongly about refugee education during the screening of The Staging Post at Illawarra, New South Wales.
CRLC family is proud of you Henry for your support.
Art is one of the most loving subjects at CRLC. Many of the students are highly interested in different art and paper work. "We love arts because it is colourful and pleasing."
Art is the language that remains fresh: you can express your feelings through art that you are not able to express through words. As our beloved art teacher said, "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 it is very powerful."
I found some brilliant artwork of students in different classes. Each single classroom was decorated differently and was amazing. Paper work decoration, pencil colour, water and oil colours painting were glowing in the classrooms.
Refugees live outside of any system, and are on an uncertain journey. Dispersed around the world and away from their homes and families, they still hold onto hope, and strive for togetherness, strength and happiness.
CRLC is that centre of togetherness, community and happiness for refugees in Cisarua, Indonesia. We have created great relationships with the Indonesian and international community, and here we forget any borders and differences.
On this special Eid we wish all our friends and the muslim world a very happy and prosperous moment. We hope this Eid helps us forgive each other and achieve our goals.
Selamat merayakan Idul Fitri bersama keluarga dan handai taulan. Semoga kita semua selalu berada dalam bimbingan dan lindungan Allah SWT. Damai sejahtera Idul Fitri memenuhi hati kita semua dengan harapan dan kekuatan serta kebijaksanaan. Mohon maaf lahir batin.
Ever since the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre was established, some extraordinary people from around the world have supported us.
From the establishment to the sustainability of the Learning centre these people have contributed so much to ensuring the refugee children getting education in limbo. The generous Susanne Holste and Gustav who have cycled 4869 kilometers across the United States on their bikes to raise money per kilometer for CRLC. This is a pure human spirit.
We the whole CRLC family thank Susanne Holste and Gustav (https://www.facebook.com/ecomiles) from the bottom of our hearts for their magnificent and life changing fund raising for the refugee children stuck in limbo in Indonesia.
We had the second round of selecting School Captain prefect. students and all the teachers voted for their favourite nominees.
Along with the selection of Captains, there are 9 more new students who are selected as prefects to keep the school discipline.
Today Australian Independent School (AIS) visited Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC). Students were overjoyed as they met each other and played many fun activities and football together.
It is great to have AIS and CRLC friendship ongoing.
The beautiful spring came and nature resumes her loveliness. CRLC family wish and greet each and every one Happy Nowruz.
Art is one of the favorite subjects for most of our students. It's because you can express yourself and have a chance to show creativity. We always encourage our students to express themselves through art and share their feelings with others.
Zahra says: "If I am happy, I would draw and if I am sad again I would draw. In both cases, art helps me to express myself."
Let's thank the amazing creature on earth who is a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend and a leader. When we first started CRLC, it was women who were the first to step in and start teaching with very limited resources. Today we have succeeded in bringing an educational revolution among the refugee community in Cisarua. Women are the backbone behind our successful journey in the education field.
So to the brave women who started an education revolution in Cisarua, today and every other day, we say thank you. #crlcfamily
Faraidoon Rezai fled his country at a very early age. He is just 13 years old from Afghanistan. For four months Faraidoon, his brother and his mother have been in Indonesia as a asylum seekers. For the first three months Faraidoon was at home and missing his school and friends. Luckily he got enrolled at the learning centre and has built up good friendship with his classmates. He is so happy. Faraidoon is a keen student of Middle school.
Aside from schooling he plays football with his friends, which is great fun for him. It has been almost a month that he has been studying again in class. “I have improved much in English within only a month.“
Our bright student wishes to be a pilot in the future. He also wishes for his friends to not be so worried. He says, “one day each of us will get settled somewhere safe.”
We are very thankful to be connected through education, with the world beyond Cisarua - especially Australia. This is the second time we have received teacher training from University of Technology Sydney in Cisarua. It is growing bigger and much more successful for us.
Teachers from different refugee led learning centres participated in the latest training, which focused on units of work and lesson plans. After visiting all the learning centres, we came back together for a final workshop, not only learning teaching skills, but also strengthening relationships and understanding among the refugee community and the UTS teachers.