A FATHER'S LOVE, A SON'S LOSS
ALI IN INDONESIA
Name: Ali MH
Profile: Hazara refugee from Afghanistan living in Indonesia
Risks: At risk of being caught and killed by the Taliban if he returns to Afghanistan
Advantages: UNHCR status, completed application, committed sponsor team (group of five)
Funding: $10,000 CAD has been raised so far, $6,500 still needed
Born in 1992 to a big and fairly prosperous family in Afghanistan, Ali led a relatively peaceful life. He had loving parents, and a father who was his closest friend and role model.
By his early 20s, Ali had graduated from school and found a good selling satellite dishes. His family was proud of his success.
His luck turned, however, when his work caught the attention of the local Taliban. They said his activities were ‘illegal’, and accused him of trying to influence Muslims to change their religion. For that perceived crime, the Taliban threatened to arrest him and sentence him to death.
After receiving numerous threats, Ali felt he had no choice but to leave Afghanistan. With the help of family and friends he set out to find a safer place.
Note: Hazaras in Afghanistan have long suffered persecution, systematic discrimination and deprivations of all kinds because of their ethnicity, religious and political beliefs. Hazaras are Shia-Muslim and the third largest ethnic minority in Afghanistan.
A Harrowing Escape
Ali’s first flight was from Afghanistan to India. Shortly after arriving, he received news that his father had been killed by the Taliban. They had tried to force him to reveal Ali’s location so they could target him next. His father refused and paid a terrible price for his loyalty to his son.
After ten days of waiting and grieving for his father, Ali was taken by boat to Indonesia via Malaysia. Having grown up in dry Afghanistan, it was his first time on the ocean. He was terrified, not knowing what to expect or when he would finally arrive.
He just knew that he had abandoned his home country, and might never see the people and things he had loved all his life.
“As I was entering the small wooden boat with my backpack, staring into the heart of that terrifying ocean, I was thinking these might be the last moments of my life.”
Surviving the harrowing journey and arriving safely on the shore, Ali felt exhilarated and thought that it was the end of his fears and the start of something better.
That was not to be the case.
Detained in Indonesia
Soon after arriving in Indonesia, he took a flight to Jakarta – where he was arrested and locked up for a month in a detention centre.
Things didn’t improve much from there. For over five years, he was held in various detention centres, including a long stay in Balikpapan.
“We were locked inside our rooms and not allowed to see the sunshine. We couldn’t use our phones or have any money to buy what we needed. We were treated like criminals.”
Note: The refugee detention centres in Indonesia are notorious. These are places where many refugees are held behind barbed wire and without proper space, food or water. Refugees in detention in Indonesia face many problems, including abuse by security officers or not having any freedom to see the outside world.
Perhaps the most crushing part of detention is having no future to look forward to. The UNHCR has largely washed its hands of these refugees, and they have no hope of resettlement. This endless uncertainty causes high levels of stress and for many, deep depression.
His life now
In late 2018, Ali was transferred from the limbo of Balikpapan limbo to the Tanjung Pinang community house.
While still not comfortable by any means, Ali felt he had found a place where he could feel human and think about the future. He started learning English, knowing it would be a vital skill for both his social and professional development. He also started taking drawing classes, as visual art had been a passion since he was a child.
Ali spends his days focused on having a positive mental attitude to keep his life on track and stay hopeful. He reads self-development books and has set his mind on becoming an entrepreneur, once he’s in a place where he can develop to his full potential.
“All I have been wishing and praying for is to get my resettlement to a country where there is safety, justice, equality, love and respect, and where we can change the world for the better. No matter where we come from and how many times we have fallen down, what’s important is that we rise again and fight harder to make our dreams come true.”
Ali has a settlement team in Toronto who are eager to submit his completed application. All that is needed is for us to complete the fundraising goal. After his family and friend provided $10,000 for his application, we started a fundraiser to collect the outstanding $6,500 required by Canadian immigration. You can donate to it here.
If you or someone you know would like to help bring Ali to a better life, please contact his friend and volunteer Stephen Watt.
Reach out and discover how wonderful it is to privately sponsor a good person to start a new life – with your help – in Canada!