Stories of Change

Despite the fact that he has to walk with crutches, Mohammad aspires to be a professional bodybuilder.

CWS supports 200 unaccompanied and separated refugee and asylum-seeking children in Jakarta.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

“I feel very safe here.”

Mohammad* is an avid sports enthusiast with a passion for weight training, and he works out regularly at a gym near his home in Jakarta. He lives with 39 other young men, all of whom are refugees and asylum seekers like Mohammad. He invited some of his housemates to join him at the gym, where he teaches them how to use the equipment properly and coaches them on their weight training.

Mohammad’s enthusiasm is infectious, and he seems to have boundless energy. He has a disability that requires him to walk with crutches, but that hasn’t slowed him down.

He is also a young man with a tragic past. He grew up in Afghanistan, but he fled the country alone at the age of 15 after his father was killed for converting to Christianity. His father’s killer threatened Mohammad’s life, too. He made his way to Jakarta through a difficult air and land journey that is familiar to hundreds of young asylum seekers. Staff from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees then referred him to the CWS-supported group home for unaccompanied and separated children, where he lives now. Many of the boys are Afghan, but Mohammad is the only resident with a disability.

The fact that Mohammad needs help walking never got him down, and our team didn’t let it get them down, either. They modified a bathroom so that it was easier for Mohammad to use. Social workers encouraged him to join activities in the home, and not just go to the gym alone. “It feels good to live with people I know,” says Mohammad, “They are friends and like family to me. I feel very safe here.”

While Mohammad enjoys all of the classes and daily activities that he and his housemates participate in, his favorite past time is still exercise. He aspires to be a professional bodybuilder. Whether or not he reaches that goal, he is still a role model for the other boys to be positive in the face of whatever adversity comes their way.

In Mohammad’s words, “I love sports and exercise; they make me feel healthy and happy. I’m also glad to see my friends doing positive activities. And I’m grateful that CWS supports us all for this.”

*Name changed to protect identity