Stories of Change

Ten boys joined a sewing class to prepare for independent living once they turn 18.

Skill building for independent living

CWS hosts unaccompanied refugee boys in five group homes in Jakarta, Indonesia. This is part of program named PURE, which stands for Protecting Urban Refugees through Empowerment. Many of the boys are teenagers who will soon leave the safety and support of the group homes as they turn 18. 

As the name of our program indicates, the PURE team works hard to support these young men to be prepared for independence. We provide lots of classes and opportunities for the boys to gain skills and training that they will need, including language and vocational classes such as hair cutting and sewing. We also offer courses on becoming interpreters for fellow refugees and asylum seekers who do not speak Indonesian or becoming teachers for their communities’ children and teens. 

Recently, 10 boys participated in a 13-class sewing course. They learned to make purses, wallets and shoulder bags. Bile, an 18-year-old from Somalia, was very excited about the opportunity, since it was one that he wouldn’t have had a chance to do in his home country. “Boys don’t sew [in Somalia] because it is seen as a ‘girly’ thing to do. But I really enjoy it,” he told our team. He says it’s a passion that keeps him motivated and positive, even as he grapples with the reality of living in a city thousands of miles from a home he will likely never return to. Bile says that he has always loved fashion, and the sewing class inspired him to create. He trades fashion ideas with some of the girls who are also in the class, and even has his own budding fashion line!

In addition to vocational classes, the residents of the CWS group homes join information sessions where they learn about topics as diverse as Indonesian culture, refugee rights, Indonesian law, healthy lifestyles, and drug abuse/misuse. As group home residents leave for independent living, these info-sharing sessions help a lot. But just case they need extra help transitioning, all the boys are given a CWS hotline number to call and are encouraged to stay in contact with CWS staff, who make sure that these young men know that they can rely on CWS if needed.