Stories of Change

Participants join a game involving blindfolds as part of Jakarta's celebration of Independence Day.

The CWS Protecting Urban Refugees through Empowerment program continues to support almost 500 especially vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers in Jakarta, including 200 unaccompanied and separated children.

Somali refugees join their Jakarta neighbors to celebrate Independence Day in Indonesia

Across their vast and diverse nation, Indonesians gathered recently to celebrate their Independence Day (August 17) with parades, sports competitions, games and, of course, celebratory speeches. In Jakarta this year, there were some unfamiliar faces in the celebrating crowds as many refugee children joined their neighborhood Independence Day parades.

Among the refugees were 16-year-old Said, who is from Somalia, and his friends. Like so many others, Said has fled his country’s endless sectarian violence when some of his family were murdered. A year ago, he began an all too familiar and dangerous journey to Indonesia by way of Malaysia. And, after reaching Jakarta, he joined many other asylums seekers who were camping out near the United Nation High Commission for Refugees office until he had the chance to join about 200 other unaccompanied children, mostly boys, who live in CWS-hosted group homes around the city.

Wearing traditional Somali clothes, Said and his house mates joined the parade around their adopted neighborhood and then the games that followed. “I’m happy today. I can make new friends, I can laugh, I feel welcomed and part of a community,” said Said.

With 66 million people worldwide on the move seeking safety and security outside their homelands today – and with more than 10 million of them being younger than 18 years of age – it was certainly a bright spot in the day to hear from Said and to know that CWS efforts to protect and support vulnerable children worldwide have an impact.