HELP for Refugees: a school and community for refugees in Jakarta
It all started in a small house in Tebet, South Jakarta, where two enterprising refugees got together and brainstormed an idea. Kalsoom Jafferi and Mohammad Baqir Bayani had a dream, and that dream was to offer basic education, health services and other learning opportunities to the displaced refugees in Jakarta who have no access to school or work while living in Indonesia.
This dream began almost three years ago in September 2017. Fast forward to today, and HELP has become more than just a learning centre. It is a vibrant and diverse community which offers a feeling of belonging and a greater sense of purpose to over 155 people living with great uncertainty.
“I am inspired by HOST International’s non-traditional approach to facilitate effective community integration by investing directly in the refugee communities. HOST’s Little Things grant went towards our rent for the 2019 calendar year,” explained Baqir, co-founder and co-director at HELP.
The HELP for Refugees headquarters operates out of its original home in Tebet, which is an ideal location as many asylum seekers and refugees in Jakarta live close by. The centre is run by a small team of committed volunteers, all of whom are from the refugee community and know the realities and experiences of living a life of uncertainty. They are supported by a multi-cultural team of teachers of different ages and nationalities.
From 9am to 12pm on Mondays to Thursdays, children from the ages of 5 to 12 years old come to the centre to learn mathematics, literacy, arts and other extra-curricular activities. Thanks to a partnership with the Australian International School, the centre is able to offer an Australian curriculum-based primary programme. Additionally, HELP also provides GED mathematics classes for high school students. In the afternoon, English classes are held for adults and customised to all levels, including non-literate adults.
Indonesia has around 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in the country. Under Indonesian law, asylum seekers and refugees are not allowed to work, they do not have access to social support from the Indonesian government and they are not accepted by the majority of schools and universities. The lack of access to education is one of the biggest problem individuals and families face.
Run by the community and for the community, HELP for Refugees is not just an education centre. It is a community of refugees who live each day with purpose, working to better the lives of fellow refugees and asylum seekers living in limbo in Jakarta. As the average time between arrival in Indonesia and resettlement in a third country has grown significantly, HELP for Refugees enables people affected by years of waiting to stay more positive and productive.