A young refugee woman trains at Cisarua Refugee Shotokan Karate Clubs dojo in Cisarua, Bogor, West Java on September 8, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Afghan Girls Keep Karate Dream Alive in Indonesian Dojo
BY :YUDHA BASKORO
SEPTEMBER 15, 2021
Bogor, West Java. In a small dojo in the outskirts of Jakarta, dozens of girls and boys from Afghanistan don their white karate uniform, or gi, and practice Japanese martial art.
The girls may represent a small number of Afgan women who were lucky enough to continue practicing karate. In their home country, the returning Taliban regime has vowed to ban women from playing sport as they deemed it is inappropriate for women to show their faces and body while doing so.
Meena Asadi, a 28-year-old Afghan refugee and 2010 South Asian Games silver medalist, established the Cisarua Refugee Shotokan Karate Clu in Bogor, West Java, in 2016.
Arriving as a refugee herself in 2015, Meena quickly found out a long and arduous bureaucratic maze to relocate refugees to their destination country of choice has left many displaced people stranded in Indonesia, even for years.
Meena set up the dojo, wishing that fellow refugees, particularly young girls, not feeling the anguish and helplessness that the waiting could cause.
Today, the karate club trains 30 students, of whom 10 refugee girls from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, allowing them to pursue their karate dream in Indonesia.
Some already have received official belt rank certificates from Indonesia Karate-Do Institute (Inkai) or Indonesia Karate-Do Sports Federation (Forki), the two organizations that examine a practitioner qualification in the country.
Through karate, Sensei Meena wants to show others that women, especially Afghan refugee women, can surpass men-dominated sport and do whatever she wants to do in her life.
The Dojo spirit is to elevate and power each other through sport.
"We accept every people who want to join the Dojo. I don't care what your nationality is, where are you come from or what religion you belong to. As long you love this sport and have a passion for it. You are welcome in my Dojo", she said.