Story of Alumnus UNAIR Fasting with Middle East Refugees

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Febby Risti Widjayanto in a forum with Great Manchester Indonesian Student Association(PPI-GM). (Photo: Special)

UNAIR NEWS – Fasting in a foreign country must leave interesting experience for Indonesian. There are many differences such as the length of time for fasting, sahur and iftar experience, also political turmoil of the society. Such story experienced by Febby Risti Widjayanto, alumnus of Universitas Airlangga who is taking her master program in International Development in University of Manchester , England.

In Manchester, England, Febby has her own story during fasting month. Living in the north hemisphere made the alumnus of Political sciences of Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) UNAIR graduated in 2014 have to fast for 19 hours, from 2.30 to 21.48 local time. Nevertheless, she felt grateful as it was shorter than the fasting of Scandinavians, about 21 hours.

“The challenge is longer fasting period, adjusting to it physically was not easy. In the first three days, I had gastric problem, got weak, dehydrated and anemic. Other challenge was the heat of summer. Different from Indonesia, the Sun in Manchester always shows itself,” said Febby.

During fasting, Febby goes to campus as usual. She goes in the morning and does her assignments in the library also to finish her thesis. In the afternoon or in the evening, she sometimes goes shopping for food. If there is an invitation for iftar, Febby will come to have iftar with other moslems in Manchester.

“If I don’t go to the library, I usually join a discussion held by Indonesian student association in Greater Manchester (PPI-GM). It is quite interesting actually, as the invitation for iftar is at 9 and it finishes at 11 in the evening,” said the best graduate of FISIP UNAIR of March 2014.

There are varied iftar and sahur menu. Culinary dishes from Indonesia, China and also Middle East are prepared by the local mosque or other Indonesian. There is fried rice, dim sum, roasted fish, fried egg, beef and vegetables pancake, and fruit cold soup. She admitted that she missed food stalls lining up in Indonesia.

“Various snacks during ngabuburit. There are not lining food stalls here. Other than that, I do not feel homesick because here the molems existing community is quite big and solid,” said Febby.

Politic Turmoil

Political situation in England is deteriorating as there is a poll determining its exit from European Union. Febby said that the situation has given her a challenge as she was included in a group discussion with European and British students.

“Personally, yes. As I have to hold back to comment about British exit which many deemed it as big blunder. I was in the group with many European and British students. So sometimes I got carried away with the political view which considers racism and xenophobia,” said the awardee of Indonesia Endowment Fund (LPDP).

During her stay in England, she also had interaction with Syrian, Afghani, Iraqi and South Sudanese refugees. They were evicted from their own land because of wars, so their fates are uncertain until now. In Manchester, most of them work and do small scope commerce.

With the unstable political situation, at there are two lessons she got from this fasting month, first, peace and political dynamics in Indonesia do not make the citizens to find refuge in other countries and second was tolerance.

“All people around us, immigrants, moslems, Christians, jews or even Agnostics deserve respects and tolerance. Fasting teaches us to improve knowledge and introspection, so it is normal to view a problem with various viewpoints, such as about refugees. We should unite not spread hatred or insults and racism as Manchester has diverse inhabitants, from three different races and thousand ethnics which share a space to live together,” added Febby. (*)

Author : Defrina Sukma S.
Editor    : Binti Q. Masruroh

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