“Hi Miss, how are you? It’s me Noyeem. I don’t know what to do alone. I miss everyone I used to speak to.”

It was 7 July 2018 and Mohammad Noyeem, a 19-year-old Rohingya refugee, had sent me a message on Facebook. I first met Noyeem in October 2017 when I wrote an article about Rohingya refugees in Medan, North Sumatra. I visited him regularly over several months, at his home in the Hotel Beraspati—a “love hotel”-turned-refugee camp on the outskirts of the city.

The last time I saw Noyeem was on 20 March 2018—the day before he flew to Portland in the United States. His resettlement visa had finally come through, and Noyeem had bought a pair of hiking boots with some money donated by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) for the occasion. In the stifling Indonesian heat, where most people wear flips flops or sandals, they stood out as we walked together around the dusty camp.

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Aisyah Llewellyn

Aisyah Llewellyn is a British freelance writer based in Medan, Indonesia. She is a former diplomat and writes primarily about Indonesian politics, culture, travel and food.