Our team in Jakarta, Indonesia, is on a mission to protect urban refugees through empowerment (which is why our program is named PURE). Protection often starts with making sure that refugees and asylum seekers have the information and skills they need to navigate life in an urban center thousands of miles from home, in a different culture. CWS hosts several group homes for young refugees and asylum seekers, but once they turn 18 they are no longer eligible to live in the homes.
That’s why we focus on making sure that refugees are equipped to live on their own once they leave the group homes.
We provide a range of information sessions on topics ranging from healthy living (nutritious foods, exercise, avoiding drug abuse, basic sexual and reproductive health) to personal budgeting, cultural sensitivity, knowing their rights as refugees, Indonesian law, and understanding their neighbors’ culture and expectations.
We also offer a range of vocational and skill building classes. A few of our most popular classes focus on the Indonesian language, sewing and tailoring, and professional interpreting. Indonesian language classes help everyone gain and essential skill for daily living in Indonesia, which most refugees will do for a long time. The sewing and tailoring classes are hands-on and experiential and can help develop an income-generating skill for a young adult.
The interpreting classes provide an opportunity for young refugees to serve as skilled interpreters for other refugees. Most refugees who arrive in Indonesia do not speak English or Indonesian, so they need help navigating many parts of daily life. In particular, interpreters are often called in to help newly-arrived refugees during hospital and health clinic visits.
Afshin, who is from Afghanistan, is a great example of a young man using the interpreting course as the first step towards a hopeful future. “My English is good, and I can understand some Indonesian as well,” he says. “Since I will most likely stay in Indonesia for some time to come, I want to become an interpreter so I can help my community, especially when people need health care in clinics.” Often, clinic staff speak English like Afshin does.
The “How to Become an Interpreter” class that Afshin took at the group home was facilitated by our colleagues from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. It covered the role of an interpreter, the different types of interpreting, interpreting demeanor and protocols. This information will help students behave professionally and respectfully, ensuring positive interactions and clear understanding. The final exam entailed each student playing the role of an interpreter for one of their role-playing peers. All 10 students passed and earned a Certificate of Completion. Although it doesn’t guarantee a job, it is a good first start for those who decide to apply for the official UNHCR interpreter training course.