Malaysia Refugee School

The Fugee Community School has been set-up to provide them with a much needed alternative.


Sabtu, 21 Des 2013 11:49 WIB

Malaysia Refugee School

Malaysia, refugee, school, Deborah Henry, Malaysiakini

According to the UNHRC Malaysia is currently home to around 200,000 refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced peoples.

These communities range from Filipino Muslim communities in Sabah to Somali refugees in city of Kuala Lumpur.

The children have no access to government schools.

The Fugee Community School has been set-up to provide them with a much needed alternative.

For around 5 hours a day, the Fugee Community School provides these students with courses in English, Mathematics, Science and an array of other subjects including art, computer, theatre and green living.

This school was set-up witht the help of a former Miss Malaysia, Deborah Henry.

“After I won Miss Malaysia in 2007, I was looking to do some projects that highlighted some NGO work in Malaysia, so I contacted the UNHCR. So later they contacted me and asked me to do a documentary on refugees. And one of the families we visited was a Somali family, living actually in this apartment itself. And I went to this home to interview this family; there were four siblings and their grandmother. 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. And I could not just walk away and wish them well. I have to do something.”

Henry joined forces with respected Somali educator and community leader, Shafie Sharif Mohamed.

“I came to Malaysia because of the war in Somalia, when I came to Malaysia I came to get protection because of the war in Somalia. When I came to Malaysia in 2008, there was no school here for Somali children. They have no education center to attend. I have a few money, and I thought why not spend it on the children’s education.”

Shafie Sharif Mohamed used to be a teacher in a private school back in Somalia.

“Back home I was an activist I was working for the civil society. I used to conduct seminars to talk about peace and human rights and gender violence. So I was teaching and working back home as an activist. 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, Fugee school provides its students with books and a full-time staff of teachers and mentors.

The schools also tries to help the refugee children become part of the wider Malaysian society.

“As a former Miss Malaysia, just as a Malaysian, I want them to remember their time in Malaysia fondly, that there were Malaysians who cared about us. They didn’t see us as foreigners, as illegal immigrants, as refugees who don’t belong and living off of us. They can contribute to the economy, they can contribute to society.  And there’s something to learn. It’s a nice experience and it’s a nice exchange.”

Mohamed Adullah is one of the 100 students now studying at the school.

He fled war in Somali and came to Malaysia in November 2008.

“I want to study university in Malaysia; I want to bring my child, my wife everything here to make a new life. Because I can adapt here, the food and the people and even the language. I know all the characters and all the behaviors. It’s a peace country, it’s an Islam country and also it’s an attractive country, it’s beautiful. “

Deborah Henry has high hopes for the school.

“We prepare them for the world, not for Malaysia, not for Somalia. We want to empower them, equip them with a strong sense of self worth and confidence. Despite their circumstances, wherever they are in this world they have within them to pursue and persevere in anything.”

From Math classes, to public speaking enrichment programs to acting – Fugee school provides its students with a holistic education.

Without this school most of these children would be getting no education at all.

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