Jolyon HoffComment

Lisa as a volunteer

Jolyon HoffComment

My name is Lisa. I am from Indonesia and currently doing my PhD in Amsterdam. I have been involved with Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre as a volunteer for the past two months. My passion has always been children's rights and refugees’ rights and the experiences living in Cisarua with refugee families has taught me extraordinary things, beyond anything any book would teach me.

At first, I was very nervous to enter the refugee community since I did not know much about the culture. But, everyone in CRLC and all the families here have opened their hands and hearts to me. Every morning, all CRLC teachers kiss me three times on my checks (left and right) and hug me tightly. “It is not in our tradition but we try to hug each other every morning to give psychological support and to start the day with positive energy," said one of the teachers. I love this optimistic gesture.

Not only the teachers, but the students are also wonderful too. They are very brave to voice their opinions, to ask many questions, and even to argue if they do not agree with what I said. In Science class, the students are very creative doing research utilising information from books and the internet. They are very excited to conduct experiments by observing nature around their residential place.

When I was teaching general knowledge about Indonesia and some bahasa, I was impressed to find that the children learn very fast. Wazma, an eight year old girl can count 1-100 in Bahasa, Indonesia within a day. Her mother said she writes all the numbers on a piece of paper and stick it on the wall of her room while she is mumbling trying to remember it the whole day!

This gives me a warm feeling inside my heart. In fact, many children often help their parents to learn English and Bahasa Indonesia after school.

Day by day, I get more and more inspired while I am staying with families. I have learned how to cook naan and Hazaragi dishes, speak some Hazaragi language, practice traditional dance with the women, hear some poets, and learn about the braveness and struggles from their stories. For the children, families are the central of their life. For parents, the children are their reason to survive.

CRLC has provided a space of hope and smiles for them.
In Indonesia, my own country, the refugees have welcomed me to share their life. I hope that more and more Indonesian can experience what I have learnt and build mutual understanding between us. Thank you everyone for your love, trust, and wisdom that is crossing my path.