“All organisations have some kind of mission statement
but not all of them practice what they preach.
Same Skies is an NGO that is really doing what they are saying”.
Read the stories of refugees here
Why did Payeez leave his home?
I am a 25 year old male refugee from Quetta, Pakistan. I have completed my intermediate in pre-engineering from Tameer-i-Nau public college Quetta in 2009. Later I got admission in Bachelor of science (BSc) but unfortunately I could not attend my classes because of target killings and the insecure situation in my city. I remained limited in my residential area, where I started teaching english language and scientific subjects in schools. I have worked as director of an english language school for a period of two years and as office co-ordinator in a school for a period. I fled my country on 1st of July 2013 because of discrimiation, daily target killings and insecurity in Quetta. The situation was aggravating into more and more crucial stages of insecurity and it is specially more devastating for my community (Hazara) and myself who are recognized by their facial expressions across Pakistan. The main reason is the misunderstanding and misleading of Islamic extremists against Hazaras. The daily target killings by the Islamic extremists took lives of innocent people including businessman, doctors, vegetable vendors, workers, shopkeepers, teachers, students, men and women, children and other civilians. The daily target killings did not break the thirst of the extremists and terrorists. They even started killing Hazaras in Hazara residential areas by blasting and explosions. In the land of danger and terror, I resisted for a long period but since I was not safe in my home and surroundings I became compelled to leave my country and appealed to the humanitarian organisation the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Jakarta for my life protection and resettlement to a third country for a safe and better life.
Today I am a refugee under the supervision of UNHCR Jakarta. I am also thankful to the local Indonesians who never let us feel down or insecure. But it is quite difficult being in a transit country like Indonesia, where I am unable to study and work. I wish I soon get the resettlement to a third country where I can continue my studies and my life ahead.
Hello, I am Shukria. I am 14 years old. I left school in 7th class because of some problems. After that, I used to go to language center. My father died eleven years before in Afghanistan. I also have two sisters and two brothers. Because of our problems we went to Quetta, Pakistan. We were living in a bad situation. We were scared of our enemy. Because of our bad situation my older sister went to Australia. After two years one of my brother was missing. Still, we don't know where he is. My mom was really scared. Then she sent my brother and sister to Australia and me and my mom were remaining in Quetta. My mom also became old because of our problems. As all people know, the condition of Pakistan is also bad, there it was hard to live. So we decided to come here. No one wants to leave their country without any reason. But because we were scared, that's why we came here. Also there was not a good condition, so we came here.
Now I'm thankful to Indonesians that they let refugees live here. The only problem I have is that I can't study here. I want to be successful in my future. I hope UN will help us to go to Australia and live with my siblings and have a happy and comfortable life.
Ali's journey to Indonesia
My name is Ali and I am 21 years old. I have been here for only two weeks. I am from Afghanistan, Ghazni province. The main problem in my country is with the Taliban. In my case, this is why I left. Someone by the name of Reza organised the whole journey to Indonesia. Totally, we were ten guys together but somehow we got separated, three of us got here.
We travelled by plane from Kabul directly to India. We were in India about six days and then flew to Malaysia. We stayed in Malaysia about five days and then moved to Indonesia by boat. We stayed on the boat around 24 hours. Then we came to Jakarta. After two days of waiting, we went to UNHCR for registration.
Gender inequality in Afghanistan (by Belqis)
In my country it is very hard to solve this problem because more than 50% of people in my country are uneducated. More than 30 years there was war in Afghanistan. After the Taliban came in our country, all the different problems began. Women couldn’t walk on the street without covered face. They couldn’t go outside. They couldn’t do anything by themselves.
Until now, the Taliban culture is still on us. It is very hard to change a big society’s culture. There is only one way to change this nasty culture - only by education. We learn education. We learn good things and if we can teach these good things to our new generation, step by step we will destroy the culture of gender difference.
Jonas working with refugee-led organisations
Malaysia, August 2017. The economic projections have been revised upwards based on strong domestic demand and stronger exports. The country enjoys great popularity as a holiday destination and is in the middle of the preparations for the 2017 Southeast Asian Games taking place in the capital. Kuala Lumpur is a throbbing city, constantly growing, one skyscraper surpassing the next one, one hotel outshining the other. All seems to be good in Malaysia – but all is not. Once you take a look behind the shining curtains, you’ll realize that the country is divided by poverty, inequality and religious intolerance. And to top it all off, there are currently about 150,000 “illegal immigrants” living in Malaysia – or as we would call them “refugees and asylum seekers”. But as Malaysia has not ratified the UN Refugee Convention of 1951, these people who have fled their country because of war, persecution and oppression are considered illegal – and therefore treated accordingly. They don’t have proper identity papers. They are not allowed to work. They don’t receive financial aid. The children cannot go to school. And they get harassed and mistreated by the police and sometimes the local population. The only support these people receive is provided by the UNHCR in Malaysia, which employs about 100 people and has a budget of about $20 million at its disposal. Each and every day, there are dozens of asylum seekers arriving in Malaysia, looking for safety – and each and every day, there are dozens of people realizing that they will have to fight for access to basic human rights. So they move to the city; there are no refugee camps in Malaysia. They find a small apartment that they can share with all their family members – if they could afford the luxury to bring their family with them. They look for a job that they can do illegally – which is mostly dangerous, dirty and difficult work. They try to connect and organize themselves within their community – which sometimes isolates them even more. And that’s where Same Skies comes into play.
One might be surprised by how many refugee-led communities are already in existence in Kuala Lumpur. So instead of creating another one, Same Skies decided on a different approach – by creating a project that involves several existing communities. Let’s call it an “umbrella project”. Because what we realized during the workshop was that these communities have complementary strengths as well as similar challenges. Some of them are very well organized, and offer services like education and support. Others are still in a developmental phase. But they all have one particular thing in common: they are led by passionate and caring people. They are all dedicated to make a difference – for others and themselves. They fight and push with seemingly unbreakable will against all odds to make life better. Even though they might realize that they are never going to be able to achieve what they really want: recognition. Same Skies was will never be able to get them the recognition they deserve. But what we were trying to initiate was a network between these communities for them to share resources and support. In addition, we wanted to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats to be able to tailor training and coaching according to their needs. In order to do that, we decided to conduct a two-day workshop with the representatives from interested communities. As we were at an early stage of the project, the work consisted mostly of organisational and administrative tasks. We had to set up communication channels with the community leaders, which turned out to be more challenging than expected. Finding a venue that was centrally located, could fit up to 40 people and was reasonably priced almost seemed impossible. Thanks to the friend of a friend of the best-friend of someone we know in Malacca (and I’m not even exaggerating right now) we were lucky enough to be offered a beautiful office space in the heart of Kuala Lumpur – free of charge. This was a beautiful example of how invaluable “social capital” is. And then there were other tasks like organizing the catering, booking a transfer to, and accommodation in Kuala Lumpur and preparing necessary documents. And then of course preparing the workshop itself: deciding on exercises, planning the procedure and creating flipcharts. So just like organizing a normal workshop – except it wasn’t a normal workshop.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would people show up? Would they be interested in what we had to say? Would everyone participate in the exercises we had planned? Would anyone be willing to recognise me as a supporting party even though I was young and inexperienced? I didn’t know – and I guess no one really knew for sure. But this uncertainty soon gave way to astonishment. I was astonished how open-minded and openhearted the participants were. Not only towards us from Same Skies but also towards each other. I was astonished how actively everyone participated in all the exercises reaching from introductory games to profound problem-analysis. I was astonished how lively the women were, how they engaged in the discussions, and took the lead. I was astonished how grateful they all were towards all of us. And I was astonished how flexibly time was perceived by some of them. The first group arrived half an hour early – the last one over an hour late. This is clearly an issue that has to be sorted out if a project with all the communities is supposed to prosper. But this is a minor challenge. We didn’t achieve this in two days. What appears more important to me though is that these people could get to know each other, get to know Same Skies, and build trust that this project will be beneficial for all of them. And this was achieved.
So we took the first step in realizing this project. But the more important parts are yet to come: teaching and mentoring the refugees so that the project can be handed over within a year. How far I (as a still inexperienced student) could be of assistance in this would have to be evaluated. One of the main lessons I can draw from this experience though is the following: Working with these refugees triggered two oppositional emotions – happiness and sadness. At the same time. Seeing them get to know each other, discuss with and present to one another, try to help each other, eat and laugh together, teach themselves how to play pool during the breaks – these were joyful moments, full of energy and vitality. But at the same time, there was always sadness. Sadness about the whole situation. Seeing those people and knowing what they were going through and struggling with. A mother asked me if there was any chance that her daughter would be able to go to an international scholar competition in Bali. I – not knowing what I should say – gave her the probably worst and most unsatisfying answer: “This is a legal matter. You’d have to consult a lawyer.” How can such a thing be a legal matter? There is a girl with a talent, a gift that should be encouraged. This should not be about some legal documents or the place where you were born – this should be about the life of this girl and letting her live out her whole potential. But it is not. So I guess that happiness and sadness are not oppositional after all. But complementary. Where there is one, there will always be the other. Like a burning candle in the dark. And I can only imagine and guess that this is similar for these refugees. They flee their home, where their family might have lived over generations, only to come to a country where, upon arrival, nothing awaits them but despair. And with time, this might change into disillusionment. And at one point maybe acceptance. And with acceptance, who knows, one day, there might even appear a small shimmer of hope. Hope that they can make it anyway. Or hope that it might still change in the future. Or hope that they still might be resettled. Any kind of hope. And so what we can do is help to keep this candle of happiness and hope burning. And maybe, just maybe, even turn this shimmer into a fire.