Malaysia’s Refugee School
Refugee children in Malaysia can now get an
education thanks to the Fugee Community School.
Aya Saed, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
For around five hours a day, Malaysia’s Fugee Community School
provides refugee students with courses in English, Mathematics, Science,
and an array of other subjects including art, computer, theatre and
green living. According to the UNHRC, Malaysia is currently home to
around 200,000 refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced
peoples. The communities range from Filipino Muslim communities in Sabah
to Somali refugees in city of Kuala Lumpur and their children have no
access to government schools.
The Fugee Community School was set-up with the help of a former Miss
Malaysia, Deborah Henry, to provide a much-needed alternative for the
refugee children. “I was looking to do some projects that highlighted
some NGO work in Malaysia, so I contacted the UNHCR,” says Henry,
explaining that the UN agency asked her to make a documentary about
After visiting one the families Henry says she was inspired to take
action. “I saw these four kids and they had absolutely nothing, they had
no school and no education and they were so closed up and so shutdown,”
she says, “And I could not just walk away and wish them well. I had to
do something.” Henry joined forces with respected Somali educator and
community leader, Shafie Sharif Mohamed, who fled to Malaysia because of
the war in Somalia.
“When I came to Malaysia in 2008, there was no school here for Somali
children,” explains Mohamed, “I have some money, and I thought why not
spend it on the children’s education.”
Back in Somalia Shafie Sharif Mohamed was a civil rights activist and
teacher. “I used to conduct seminars to talk about peace and human
rights and gender violence,” he says, “So when I came here I became a
community teacher as well as a community leader.” Through the support of
private and corporate sponsors as well as fundraisers, the Fugee school
provides its students with books and a full-time staff of teachers and
mentors. The school also tries to help the refugee children become part
of the wider Malaysian society.
“I want them to remember their time in Malaysia fondly, that there were
Malaysians who cared about them. That didn’t see them as foreigners,
illegal immigrants or refugees who don’t belong,” says the former Miss
Mohamed Adullah is one of the 100 students now studying at the school.
He arrived in Malaysia in 2008 after fleeing the war in Somalia and
wants to continue his studies at a Malaysian university. “I want to
bring my child, my wife, everything here to make a new life. I can adapt
here, the food and the people and even the language. I know all the
characters and all the behaviors,” says Adullah, adding that he also
feels comfortable in Malaysia as a Muslim.
Founder Deborah Henry says she has high hopes for the future of her
students. “We want to empower them, equip them with a strong sense of
self worth and confidence,” says Henry, “Despite their circumstances,
wherever they are in this world they have within them to pursue and
persevere in anything.”
This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current
affairs radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news
agency KBR68H in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass Communications
Chiang Mai University, and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries
across Asia. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at
Chiang Mai Night Safari donates blankets and warm clothing
The Chiang Mai Night Safari, led by Dr.
Sarawut Srisakun donated blankets and warm clothing to Ban ThungTon Ngio
School, Ban Ma O Cho branch. Thawinsak Chantarayut, the school’s teacher
was there to greet them on December 25 2013 to receive the donation. Ban
ThungTon Ngio School, Ban Ma O Cho branch, Mae Tuen sub district, is a
primary school located in Omkoi district that provides education to
children in Ban Hua Lo, Ban Ma O Cho, Ban Klur gur Cho Dae and Ban Dae
Bue Sa Tha. The school has 185 students.
Resilience training for senior students
‘The secret of strong adults’
Senior students at Prem School took part in a 2
day seminar with interactive workshops at Payap University to prepare for
entering the world after graduation.
By Joy Huss
Prem Tinsulanonda International School provides a safe learning and
familial environment that parents desire and expect for their children. The
school has an obligation to prepare its students for a further high quality
of life after they graduate from our school. Adult life is a challenge and
Prem wants to support its students and advise them how they can develop
resilience, despite the adversities they are facing. To this end, a two day
seminar was arranged at Payap University for all Grade 12 students, during
which time a range of active and interactive workshops was offered, built on
seven factors that are important in the life of a resilient individual.
All sessions were hosted by experts who shared their experience and
knowledge with the students and who offered the opportunity of discussing
the topic thoroughly.
Ozzie Crocco, Head of International Campus Life at Payap University,
provided a session on living and studying at university or college. He not
only gave hands-on advice on how to ‘survive’ a first year in higher
education, but also focussed on the importance of social skills, new
relationships and being part of a community. Through personal examples,
interesting references and a team building exercise, our students got a very
realistic view on college life.
Linda Buck, Head of Boarding at Prem, and Nicole Duhig, College and Careers
Counsellor, hosted a session on money matters. International students come
across a variety of financial matters: college fees, student loans, or
earning money through a student job. Purposeful spending was the key factor
during these sessions: through questions and answers, students were made
aware of the importance of financial security.
Igor Van Bever, psychologist and self-defence expert, hosted a self-defence
session and a session on self-knowledge. Students practised self-defence
techniques, based on the philosophy of aikido, a Japanese martial art. By
using some simple techniques, students learnt how to defend themselves
physically, not by attacking, but by using the energy of the attacker to
defend and protect their body. During the second session, he focussed on the
importance of self-knowledge by introducing the concept of the unconscious
mind and how to reflect on one’s own actions.
The students also got the opportunity to share their ideas, experiences and
advices and to ask for advice themselves. These exchanges, not only with
speakers, but with fellow-students, were of great value.
When asked what they thought of the weekend’s training, students said:
“Thanks for the great program, really helped me!” Another student said, “So
looking forward to starting real life. Felt good to be trusted with advanced
and important trains of thinking.” Another thought the interactive seminars
were great and another student said, “What we learned here, should be
continually reinforced to retain this amazing new knowledge.”
Prem considers this training as an important part of the curriculum and will
offer a new version during the next academic year. It was very rewarding to
see how students actively participated, were enthusiastic and constructive
in their feedback and discussions.