Connecting people, engaging society
“Understanding the unimaginable struggle that they have as a family or individuals, taking the risk and money to leave their home country and search for a better world. I can only feel how much I am blessed with the living I have, the freedom I have taken for granted. You cannot stop thinking that they have made such a big decision to leave their home country and live in uncertainty with only one thing … HOPE.”
Foeng decided to take on an intern after personally meeting with refugees living in Indonesia. Being part of the JRS internship programme has given him an insight into the desperation and frustration that refugees experience on a day-to-day basis. He is heartened to note that such a simple programme could make such a meaningful difference to a refugee who had been forcibly displaced from his country.
Z has been a refugee in Indonesia for 7 years since his journey out of Afghanistan. Given that he had never held any formal employment his entire life, coupled with his years of desolation as a refugee, it naturally took quite some time for Z to adjust when he first started as an intern in 2020 at Multi Mitra Group – a product distribution company based in Indonesia. Nonetheless, he took everything in his stride and never shied away from the obstacles in his way. Z stood out for his great attitude, taking in all the knowledge and picking up the skills along the way. He was very hands-on, learning quickly to adapt to an office environment. Despite starting from zero, Z has been on a steep learning curve. He now manages his tasks independently, creating digital media – photos, videos and posters – for Multi Mitra’s newly established online channel.
More than just contributing to the productivity of the organization, Foeng believes that engaging an intern has a greater ‘intangible’ benefit for his company. The company’s employees can now better appreciate Multi Mitra’s core values. Foeng states with conviction, “We are not only focused on the bread and butter of company profits, we are founded on principle and its primary purpose includes enabling people to have a better life, to give everyone the opportunity to succeed in life.”
From Foeng’s perspective, the key to a successful internship programme is encouragement and mentoring. For refugees, the everyday environment can be very alienating and many aspects of the culture can appear strange and foreign. It takes a lot of mental effort from both the refugee intern and the host company to mutually understand the different values that the other holds. As such, Foeng was patient and devoted additional time and resources to allow Z to adapt to Multi Mitra and also to allow the company to adapt to their intern. The first weeks of the internship were the most critical and time-intensive, for Z needed to learn about the standard operating processes, and the quality of the output expected.
Happily, for both Foeng and Z, there were no insurmountable challenges. In fact, Z’s relationship with Foeng and Multi Mitra goes beyond a standard employer-employee relationship. It was most heart-warming when Z once confided to Foeng that Multi Mitra is the closest family he has in the country.