Fasting from sunrise until sunset is no doubt challenging at the best of times, but try doing this whilst away from friends and family and it becomes even harder. While I was back in Perth I had the chance to speak to two young Indonesian Muslims about their experiences of their first Ramadhan in Perth.
Torgis Pramana Putra walks three kilometres everyday to go and pray at the mosque near his home in Huntingdale. Although he is used to walking, it is strange to see most of his friends driving instead. He tells me how back in Indonesia nearly everyone would walk to the mosque during Ramadhan. He explained, “ In Indonesia everyone walks to the mosque, but here I am the only one.” If he is lucky a friend may offer him a lift to the mosque, but most of the time he has to get there by his own accord. He tells me however, that he doesn’t mind walking. “I feel blessed because God gives me good health and strong feet for walking.”
Torgis is currently on a working holiday visa in Perth working as a cleaner. Initially, he was living in Melbourne, but friends suggested he move to Perth to find employment.
When I spoke to Torgis he was very open in telling me about his experiences of Ramadhan in Perth. He reflected on the way the cooler weather, which made him less hungry and made fasting easier during the day.
He also mentioned some of the difficulties. When he walked in the streets in Indonesia there would not be many people eating food during Ramadhan “But here I see many people smoking and for me this is very strange,” he said. Depsite these challenges, Torgis is enjoying his first Ramadhan in Perth.
Diah (Galuh) Value Sarimbit
Diah Value Sambrit or “Galuh” is currently living in Bedford, Perth working as an oper (nanny) and is responsible for looking after two children. Galuh, who is originally from East Java, said one of the challenges is looking after the children while fasting in Ramadhan. Galuh explained, “like today the kids were trying to feed me some rice or some chips and I was about to open my mouth, but then I realised oh no no no I cannot eat that.”
She feels the weather is a big advantage though with fasting during Ramadhan in Perth. Although people continue to eat around her she thinks the weather makes it easier to fast without feeling too thirsty or hungry. Another positive for Galuh is the support the Muslim community in Perth has been able to offer. For instance, she says one of the neighbours on the corner is Muslim and they have helped with transportation and getting around during Ramadhan. The support of the Indonesian Muslim community has also helped. Last Sunday (21 June) the Indonesian Embassy in Perth held a buka puasa (breaking the fast) event and she feels there is a strong support network in Perth for Indonesians.
Nevertheless, one of the toughest challenges has been to maintain her discipline during this period without the daily support of family and friends. Galuh has tried to look at this as a positive and a way to challenge herself, “This is a good opportunity when we are far from family … it is a part of our spiritual journey.”
I would like to thank Torgis and Galuh for sharing their experiences of Ramadhan in Perth and wish them all the best during this period and to all the Muslims celebrating Ramadhan.
Writer: Tim Flicker