Patrick, a volunteer from Denmark, in Kuala Lumpur

Building Bridges Beyond Borders (Malaysia), Volunteers' Stories 26 May 2016

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My lovely refugee colleagues and I: Muang, Pastor Ruth, and Aung Pi.

Since I was a child I have been to many countries all around the world. I have seen the big gaps between cultures and minorities with my own eyes. Tasted the diversity with my own mouth. I had had eyes as a tourist and now I wanted to take action, which is why I contacted Just Volunteers.

 

The refugee crisis that our world is facing today is devastating. When I was introduced to the Myanmar Refugee crisis there was no going back. I felt I had an obligation to help and support those who have suffered the most. Through the project ‘Building Bridges Beyond Borders’, I was going to teach at a Myanmar Refugee School called MRCLC. It turned out to be some the best months in my life.

 

When I first arrived in Kuala Lumpur in December I was surprised. Asia was not a new region for me, but Malaysia was. I try not to have any expectations (/not want to have many expectations) but that tends to be impossible. I thought I was going to a tropical country where the jungle was dominating. Instead I was facing a city that was screaming capitalism: huge skyscrapers, supreme malls in every direction and a sun that was shinning constantly.

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Downtown Kuala Lumpur

Once it became January it was time for me to begin volunteering at MRCLC. I had rented my own apartment with

what I thought would be walking distance to my new job. It really wasn’t… Instead I ended up taking an Uber at least twice a day! Luckily it was not Danish prices.

 

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My apartment (Please note that Patrick rented his OWN apartment, Just Volunteers and the Building Bridges  programme does NOT provide such luxurious accommodation! Editor.)

The refugee school was consisting of three apartments and it was all very tight and lacked resources. Two of the apartments were functioning as classrooms, and the other apartment was where the kindergarten and kitchen was located. There I would sit and have Myanmar lunch everyday among small kids, my refugee colleagues and a few other volunteers.

I was only going to volunteer at MRCLC for three months, but I ended up extending my stay with an extra month because I liked it so much. The school is truly making a difference and it was amazing to be a part of such a humble place and get the opportunity to meet so many bright children and colleagues. It was inspiring coming to school everyday to teach children who are eager to learn. Many of the children come from harsh backgrounds and when they come home it is where the work begins… MRCLC is providing the students with an educational platform where they can clear their minds and focus on education while having a fun social life. Some children haven’t been to school for more than two years before coming to MRCLC due to their refugee situation.

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My classroom at MRCLC

 

In the beginning it was challenging coming from high school and all of the sudden becoming a teacher. But it was only my advantage since it was just a little under a year ago I was the one sitting on the school bench and getting taught by my teachers in Denmark. Now I was teaching English, history, geography, creative arts and general studies. The authority I all of the sudden was experiencing was definitely something new. But after meeting all of the students this became the new normal. Although I still couldn’t stop smiling when someone called me “Teacher Patrick.”

It was an incredible experience and I couldn’t ask for a more inspiring job: To be surrounded by children that are eager to learn, since they are aware that this is a change to strengthen their future integration into potential countries. Other times it was very emotional. You are teaching children who have third world problems, and it truly makes you appreciate the small things in life and makes you question why the world can seem to be unfair. No matter what, I can only encourage people to help the refugees children worldwide. The children are our future, no matter if they come from first or third world backgrounds.

Patrick R. M.

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Building Bridges Beyond Borders (BBBB)

A collaboration between Soroptimist International Damansara  and Just Volunteers! Sponsored by YTL Foundation. MALAYSIA