Stories of Change

Indonesian and refugee children during the two-day cultural exchange in Jakarta.

200 unaccompanied refugee youth live in CWS-supported shelters in Jakarta.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

“What I have learned…is that one should not think that someone who is different is bad.”

In July, CWS partnered with Kampus Diakonia Modern, a local foundation that supports street children in Jakarta, to bring 33 unaccompanied and separated refugee children together with 35 Indonesian children for two days of fun through sports, arts and crafts activities and cultural sharing and learning.

The Indonesian children wanted to learn how to cook traditional Somali food, play the damburaa (a traditional Somali music instrument) learn English, and hear stories. The refugee children, who are mostly from Afghanistan and Somalia, were eager to learn about paper quilling, Indonesian traditional food, how to play the angklung (a traditional Indonesian music instrument) and how to recycle bottles and fabric.

As their time together drew to a close, on Indonesia teen said, “I’m happy to be able to share stories with the refugee children I have met. What I learned during these two days is that one should not think that someone who is different is bad. We were able to respect and like each other … and even share [our very different] foods!” Another child said, “I was happy to learn about the culture of Afghanistan, and [I am so glad] the two organizations brought us closer together.”

And the refugee children? “It was great! We had so much fun with the Indonesian kids,” said one. Another stated simply, “I really hope we will have a similar opportunity in the future.”

Through partnerships with many and varied local organizations, CWS team members who focus on Protecting Urban Refugees Through Empowerment activities for children, are always looking for new and different ways to engage and encourage the 200 children in CWS care and protection. The two days with some of Jakarta’s thousands of street-living children and teens was inspiring for all CWS staff who were glad to witness the simple joy of helping break barriers and build bridges across cultures while recognizing how much all the children and teens who shared the day have in common. As ever, we are proud to stand with children in difficult circumstances, and to do what we can to uplift their spirits and hopes.