Tuesday, March 21, 2023

After visiting Asia Plateau India for International Conference by IofC India, Amiel visited Indonesia together with Barbara Lawler,  2 - 9 February 2023. They spent time connecting with the IofC Indonesian team and did outreach in Bandung and Jakarta. Following is Amiel's reflection during his time in Indonesia.

Just before departing for Asia two days before Australia Day/Invasion Day this year, a time for joy and sorrow in Australia, I took some time to reflect on my life’s journey and how far I have come.  This was not an easy experience. I reflected on my personal refugee experiences and situations that put my life at risk at such a young age. I reflected on my early childhood dreams and aspirations. I reflected on my identity, and where that sits in the wider-Australian identity. I reflected on my journey to Australia, and what building peace has taught me over the last decade. I reflected on peace and freedom, and further reflected on whether Australia is at peace with itself and neighbours. Through my daily practice of quiet time, I was reminded that my story is a part of the wide- Australian story, a story built on pain, hope and resilience. This what makes Australia unique. Australia is on a journey, and hopefully through my own personal transformation and commitment to live a life of service I will help others find clarity in fulfilment of their calling.

My journey with Barbara Lawler, globally known as Ibu, started in 2018 at the time when I was going through significant personal transformation while completing my education at a local university in Queensland, Australia. Having had spent 9 years in Australia, at the time I was slowly adjusting to the Australian lifestyle and grounding my feet. I was going through cultural and character transformation and was redefining my story in the Australian context. I was looking for belonging. For refugees and migrants, this period can be extremely challenging, and unfortunately many young people and emerging leaders often lose sight. Finding your place in the wider-Australian story is not easy. Thankfully, my contact with Ibu at the time enabled me to explore my story a little further, and through ongoing mentoring and by challenging my thoughts and ideas, a journey of healing began.  

My first encounter with Initiatives of Change was facilitated by Barbara. At the time, when we were both strangers, little did we know that we would spend many years ahead working together to build peace and trust across divides starting from within. In the same year of 2018, I was exposed to the film, “Beyond forgiving” which not only challenged my attitudes and views towards leadership, but also, how to let go of the painful past. The journey of healing and forgiveness as expressed by Ginn Fourie and Letlapa Mphalele in the documentary stirred strong emotions and feelings, and this experience has had profound impact on my journey and my own attitudes towards the past. Through deeper listening and spending time reflecting on my own journey, I was convinced that if Ginn and Letlapa could overcome, so would I. With higher insights, this documentary invited me to walk a new path, a path of humility and understanding. A path to forgive, and in doing so heal the pain the of past. Through this experience I felt freed, at peace and recommitted to live a life of service. 

Meeting Letlapa, while at Asia Platue, I had the privilege to engage, learn and draw so much wisdom from his life’s journey.  Hearing his journey and what healing historical pain meant for him reaffirmed my commitment and dedication to close divides within my community, particularly when working with heightened communities with ongoing and active pain. Through this encounter we reflected on the importance of bravery in peacebuilding. Sustainable peacebuilding takes time and can be costly. Thus, it takes those who are brave and committed to drive a shared vision, even when life is at risk. We reflected on the context and impacts of apartheid, and the sacrifice it took to end. Letlapa’s powerful speech challenged me to question, “what path will I choose and what price am I willing to pay?”. 

While in Asia, I was also humbled to meet Prof Rajmohan Gandhi, my mentor, and a friend. Through this encounter, I reflected on the importance of intergenerational legacy, particularly when planting the seeds of hope that will feed many generations to come. When responding to ongoing pain in the community, sometimes it is easy to just focus on providing immediate relief. The world is craving for leaders whose ideals transcend many generations. Thinking transnationally and remaining committed to a shared future remains my ongoing struggle and I look forward to how this will inform and impact the work I do within my own community and beyond.  

Welcoming Dance by students of Mumtaza School 

My time in Indonesia reaffirmed my ideals of transnational leadership – thinking locally but acting globally. As a first timer in Indonesia, I was introduced to the warmth and coolness of Indonesian diverse culture and faith practices. This experience involved visiting a Mosque for the first time and exploring the ideals of peace with over 400 participants, including over 150 students from a local Islamic school in Jakarta. Visiting the Asian African Museum, and further participating in a dialogue between Muslims and Seventh Day Adventists, provided a profound and unforgettable experience.  While in Indonesia, I felt at home and incredibly grateful for the hospitality provided by Indonesian people.   

The poster for Seminar in Bandung

My Indonesian experience reminded me of the importance of positive neighbourly experiences, especially that of what we can learn from our neighbours.  Even though my stay was brief, and I did not get to explore the country in its entirety, I remain convinced that Indonesia has so much to offer to the region and the rest of the world, particularly Australia. The experience I had going to the Mosque for the first time, the conversations facilitated between Muslims and members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church demonstrated a sense of religious tolerance and maturity rare in Australia. I also felt a sense of urgency towards tolerance, understanding and belonging throughout the country. I also sensed that Australia could benefit from the technological advancement, including they entrepreneurial attitudes that are driving innovation and economic growth in Indonesia. 

Visiting Adventist friends in Bandung

Strengthening bonds between neighbouring countries should not only be left to government and business initiatives. I am very hopeful that through these grassroots initiatives, inspired by ordinary Australians and Indonesians, we can create positive experiences to inform a shared future for the region. Australia needs to be an active player as we have so much to offer to the region.  As emergent leaders in the region, it is our responsibility to redefine our future with a common and shared understanding of our roles and responsibilities. 

My trip to Indonesia and India has left me with profound impacts, and I look forward to continuing they exploration of our shared vision and what that means for me. I was truly moved by the hospitality, and how IofC networks in both countries ensured a smooth stay. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to learn, grow and share. I will take my ambassadorial role very seriously, and I cannot wait to return.  Thank you for making me feel at home, and I promise to do the same next time you visit our beautiful Australia.


Writer: Amiel Nubaha, Board Member of IofC Australia, IofC Indonesia Ambassador in Australia