Afghanistan, a war-torn country in the Middle East, has been embroiled in conflict for decades. The country has been in a state of political and social instability since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
The situation has only worsened in recent years, with the United States and NATO forces occupying the country for almost two decades. This occupation ended with the withdrawal of troops in 2021, leaving Afghanistan in a state of chaos and uncertainty.
As a result, there has been a surge in the number of refugees from Afghanistan in recent years. One of the main reasons for a large number of refugees from Afghanistan is the ongoing conflict in the country.
The Taliban, a radical Islamic group that controlled Afghanistan in the 1990s, won the civil war in 2021 and formed a government within the country. Known for its brutal tactics, including attacks on its own civilians, they have indirectly caused the displacement of thousands of Afghans.
This conflict has also caused widespread destruction of infrastructure, homes, and public services, making life in Afghanistan unbearable for many.
Another factor contributing to the refugee crisis in Afghanistan is the country's weak economy.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with high levels of unemployment and poverty. The majority of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods, and the country has suffered from years of drought and environmental degradation, further exacerbating poverty and food insecurity.
The lack of economic opportunities and basic necessities has forced many Afghans to flee the country in search of a better life elsewhere.
The treatment of women and minorities is also a major concern in Afghanistan. The Taliban, in particular, has a long history of denying women their basic rights and imposing strict Islamic law.
Women have often been subjected to domestic violence, forced marriages, and restrictions on their movement and education. The situation is even worse for minority groups such as the Hazara, who have faced persecution for their ethnicity and religious beliefs.
This has resulted in a significant number of Afghan women and minorities seeking refuge in other countries. In fact, a large portion of these refugees is currently seeking refugee with one of the largest countries in South East Asia - Indonesia.
Refugees in Indonesia
Indonesia, a country located in Southeast Asia, is home to a diverse range of cultures and ethnicities. The country has also seen its fair share of refugee crises, with thousands of people fleeing their home countries due to conflict, persecution, and natural disasters.
Bogor is a city located in the province of West Java, Indonesia. It is a popular destination for tourists due to its cool climate, scenic beauty, and rich cultural heritage.
However, in recent years, the city has also become a hub for refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in their home countries. The majority of refugees in Bogor come from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
They arrive in the city via various routes, including by sea, air, and overland. Once in Bogor, refugees are faced with a range of challenges, including finding accommodation, food, healthcare, and education.
One of the main challenges faced by refugees in Bogor is finding suitable accommodation. Many refugees live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, with multiple families sharing small apartments or rooms. Some are even forced to sleep on the streets or in makeshift camps, which can be dangerous and unhealthy.
Access to healthcare is another major challenge for refugees in Bogor.
While the Indonesian government provides some healthcare services to refugees, they are often limited in scope and availability. Many refugees are unable to access basic medical care, such as vaccinations, check-ups, and treatment for common illnesses.
Education is also a significant challenge for refugee children in Bogor.
While some schools in the city are open to refugees, language barriers and cultural differences can make it difficult for refugee children to integrate into the school system.
As a result, many refugee children miss out on the opportunity to receive a formal education, which can have long-term impacts on their future prospects.
In addition to these challenges, refugees in Bogor also face discrimination and stigma from the local population.
Many Indonesians view refugees as a burden on the country's resources, and some hold negative stereotypes about refugees based on their race, religion, or ethnicity.
This can make it difficult for refugees to integrate into the local community and can lead to further social isolation and marginalization. Despite these challenges, there are also some positive developments in the situation of refugees in Bogor.
Several local organizations and community groups are working to support refugees and provide them with basic services, such as food, shelter, and medical care. These organizations are often run by volunteers and rely on donations from the public to operate.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, MAD School and Make The Change have been visiting the refugee centers in Bogor and helping out in different ways to aid the refugees.
We have initiated two programs for adult refugees that focus on imparting valuable skills within the gig economy so that they can earn a living for themselves and their families and achieve financial independence.
One of the skills taught is Digital Marketing where refugees will learn how to perform SEO and SEM duties for companies overseas. Due to the restrictions set by the local government, refugees are prohibited from working in the country they are residing in for fear of competition for jobs with the locals.
In today's world, businesses of all sizes are investing heavily in their online presence, and digital marketing has become an essential component of any successful marketing strategy.
This is particularly true in Indonesia, where the e-commerce sector is rapidly growing, and more and more businesses are turning to online platforms to reach customers.
Digital marketing skills, including search engine optimization (SEO), social media management, and email marketing, are in high demand, and can be used in a wide range of industries.
Another skill that we reckon can be particularly valuable for refugees in Bogor is design. Graphic design, web design, and other forms of visual communication are in high demand across a variety of industries, and there is a growing need for professionals who can create compelling, engaging visual content.
This is particularly true in the digital age, where businesses and organizations need to be able to communicate effectively through websites, social media platforms, and other online channels.
Design skills can be used in a variety of contexts, from marketing and advertising to product development and packaging design.
The Indonesian government has also taken some steps to support refugees in the country. In 2016, the government passed a regulation that allows refugees to obtain work permits and access some basic social services, such as healthcare and education.
However, implementation of this regulation has been slow, and many refugees still struggle to access these services. In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the situation of refugees in Bogor and across Indonesia.
The pandemic has led to increased unemployment, reduced access to healthcare, and limited movement for refugees, making it even more difficult for them to meet their basic needs and access support services.
Nonetheless, we hope our continuous effort in supporting this group of refugees will bear fruit and bring along a sense of relief to them when in terms of financial and mental stability.
See you next year, Bogor!