Tamara Dewi Gondo Soerijo: From Miss Indonesia Finalist to Empowering Refugee Women

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.

Reihan Hussaini, a 28-year-old refugee from Afghanistan shows a t-shirt made from plastic waste at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

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.”

A refugee sews with a sewing machine at at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A refugee sews a tote bag with a sewing machine at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb. 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A refugee cuts a piece of fabric at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
​A refugee cuts fabric for sewing. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A refugee carries a plastic bag at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A refugee gets more fabric from the drawer. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Refugees create sewing pattern at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Class continues with the refugees drafting the pattern. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A refugee sews a small pocket at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A refugee sews a small pocket into a tote bag. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A refugee irons a small bag at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A refugee woman irons the sewn small bag. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Tamara helps a refugee during sewing course at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Tamara assists the refugee during the sewing course. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Fashion product made by refugees at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
From t-shirts to small pouches: Fashion products made by the refugees at the Liberty Society workshop. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Tamara Dewi Gondo Soerijo poses for the Jakarta Globe at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb, 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Tamara Dewi Gondo Soerijo poses for the Jakarta Globe at Liberty Society workshop in Serpong, South Tangerang on Feb. 3, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

By : YUDHA BASKORO – JAKARTA GLOBE

2 Comments

  1. I can relate to this story… over the years, there have been individuals rising up to the occasion to empower others.. they bring about a balance in society.. and often it’s about equality , integrity, creativity and sustainability . Honoured are their services. 🙏🏻💓🙏🏻

    Like

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