The Asylum Seekers of Cisarua

Alex Ellinghausen

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The sun rises over the hills surrounding Cisarua – a small town just over an hour’s drive south of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. “It’s too early, they [asylum seekers] still sleeping”, an ojek driver tells me. The ojek (motorcycle taxi) is the easiest way to navigate through the narrow back lanes and the ojek drivers that loiter out the front of the supermarket on the main street know the back streets of their town better than most. Many of the asylum seekers that are in Indonesia have ended up here in Cisarua. Many are waiting for their cases to be processed by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some are waiting to board a boat for Australia.

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Homes are built close to each other on the side of the hill and within the labyrinth of narrow alleys, there are pockets of asylum seekers, mostly…

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Checkmate

Epiphany in the Cacophony

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I remember the time my father taught me chess. On a Sunday afternoon, I sat cross legged at the center table in the drawing room, silently watching him put the pieces in place. “This is the queen, and this is the king”, he said, holding up the pieces. My eyes widened. I reached for them, running my fingers gently along the piece, examining it closely as he set up the board.

He went on to explain the rules to me. “The aim is to protect the king at all costs” he said, showing me how the different pieces moved across the chessboard. It was the most beautiful game I’d seen. I stopped listening. All I saw was a story. A story of two kingdoms, equal in strength, competing for supremacy.

I saw a battle begin before my eyes. The pieces charged towards each other, falling by the dozen as…

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New Year: My One Word for 2015 and Why I Can’t Leave 2014 Behind

Lily Ellyn

In Korea people don’t stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year. Instead, they get up in the middle of the night and they hike a mountain. They climb through the dark, snowy pre-dawn hours and when they reach the top they stand with their faces to the sky to greet the first sunrise of the New Year.

What a contrast to how we in the West often enter the New Year – stumbling out of bed at noon, tired and quite possibly hungover. For many, January 1st is a day of recovery. We spend New Year’s Eve celebrating the ending of something and the beginning of a new thing. We bombard the internet with reflections on the previous year. Even the less introspective among us take a moment to declare the past year, “the best” or “the hardest” or “the craziest” year of their lives.

I can…

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