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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 refugee families.

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 Malaysia.

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 www.portalkbr .com/asiacalling.

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.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story] :

Malaysia’s Refugee School

Chiang Mai Night Safari donates blankets and warm clothing

Resilience training for senior students