Jakarta. A refugees' life is always full of uncertainties.
Work opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers are limited to charity work by law, leaving them reliant on people's generosity every day. With this additional stress, these community members fall vulnerable to mental illnesses and other health concerns. In response, Tamara Dewi Gondo Soerijo initiated the Liberty Society community, providing sewing courses, fashion education, and cooking classes to equip refugees with practical skills to ease their resettlement.
“For refugees, staying at home for 7 to 10 years and doing nothing must be very stressful. I heard them say that they feel like they are in a prison with invisible walls. I want to change that narrative", said the 23-year-old woman at a Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang, last week.
This Miss Indonesia 2019 finalist wanted to provide a space for refugees, especially women, to receive education and open opportunities to learn so they can be more productive and empower women by providing meaning to their daily routine.
“Fashion can open up opportunities to tell stories. [Materials] are easy to reach, can be worn and [are] very useful so every message they [tell] can touch every [person’s] heart,” Tamara said.
Fashion provides a creative outlet for refugees to cathartically express their stories and reconcile these emotions.
"This community grows from the principle of [female] empowerment,” Tamara said.
“Mothers will also be happier because they know they can provide a better future for their children.”