Kedutaan Besar Republik Indonesia
Ottawa
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
Ambassade de la RÉpublique d'Indonésie

Ex refugee pilot on solo flight around the world visits Batam

Shaesta Waiz, 29, a refugee-turned pilot takes pictures together with the audience during an event in Batam, Riau Islands, on Monday. Waiz, an Afghan-American who was born in a refugee camp, is on a three-month solo flight across the globe. She visited Batam to inspire and encourage more Indonesian women to become pilots. (The Jakarta Post/Fadli)

Shaesta Waiz, 29, a refugee-turned pilot who is on a three-month solo flight across the globe, visited Batam, Riau Islands, on Monday where she encouraged more Indonesian women to become pilots.

Waiz, an Afghan-American, who was born in a refugee camp, told more than 50 female high school students the story of her life where she managed to overcome all the limitations and challenges as a refugee to become a pilot who has inspired people around the world.

“The equality issue for me is no longer challenge. To become the first female civilian pilot in Afghanistan was a struggle,” she said, adding that being a pilot was not a matter of gender.

Waiz started her epic flight in a small, single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza A36 plane in Florida in May and is currently in Singapore.

Indonesia will be the 15th country she will have visited when she is scheduled to make a stopover in Bali on August 4. She was invited by the Indonesian Transportation Ministry to be a speaker in Batam while she was in transit in Singapore.

From Bali, Waiz’s plane is scheduled to leave for Australia.

The 18-country world tour is expected to be complete in August.

“We need to push for more females to become pilots,” the ministry’s domestic cooperation bureau head, Susanti Pertiwi, told The Jakarta Post.

According to her there are some 7,000 licensed pilots in Indonesia but only around 150 of them are female. (bbs)