#Do1Thing: I Share My Knowledge with Refugees

15 January 2018

(Jesuit Refugee Service)

For most of us, visiting a foreign country whose language we do not speak is not always a great challenge. We stay in hotels where the concierge makes restaurant, taxi, and excursion bookings for us, and we can consult smartphone apps for the odd phrase or two that we need to use.

For a refugee waiting a long time for resettlement, or trying to negotiate the many layers of bureaucracy, in a country whose language is unfamiliar, the experience is very different. Sari, a young Indonesian woman in Cisarua, knows this.

We hear her saying, “I am young, and I don’t have much money. So what can I actually give to refugees?”

What Sari has is a little spare time, and the knowledge of her own language, Bahasa Indonesia. This is her gift to Hazara refugees who have fled Afghanistan for Indonesia, and who are waiting there for resettlement to third countries: the gift of language, which opens doors, connects people, and makes relationships possible. It seems like the tiniest thing, but teaching a refugee the language of the community where she or he lives helps to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate that refugee, the four things that Pope Francis calls on us to do.

Sari’s message to us is that we should be open, be friendly, and get to know refugees. Maybe, she suggests, we should talk less, and do more. Sari shows us that we can #Do1Thing to make a difference.