In the Building Bridges Beyond Borders (BBBB) programme in Malaysia we have local volunteers joining us every year. RM gives her thoughts on the refugee school where she has been a volunteer teacher in the programme for several months.
Hello, I am a local volunteer at [Myanmar Refugees school] in KL. I have been a volunteer for seven months as I am writing this. It has been an absolutely wonderful journey and I feel blessed to be granted this opportunity to teach the young refugees that are currently residing in Malaysia.
RM teaching at the school
A science class being held safely outside
A Student leads his class
After a few months of volunteering as teacher, I learned to adapt and be comfortable with the environment. Growing up in Malaysia, and then spent my high school and masters degree UK, I never noticed how privileged I have been. Even the children realise how different I am compared to them. Nevertheless, they were willing to fully accept me the way I am. They overlooked the differences and chat with me and makes me feel belonged. They tell me their stories and their journey. They talked to me about their experience of living in Malaysia as a refugee.
Girls working hard in class
Malaysia does not acknowledge refugees and they are treated as equal to illegal immigrants. Children are not allowed to go to school, parents are not allowed to get a job to support their family. The situation is complicated indeed. Despite the hardship they experience, their smiles brighten my day. Thinking no matter how bad things get, as long as they have each other and as long as they can sleep, eat and breath (though in fear with unpredictable future), they are content. It is something that many of us can’t imagine.
Volunteering taught me so many things. One of my favourite is that money does not make me happy but doing what I love does – which is providing knowledge and helping others. Getting the chance to teach children how to do experiments, how to use computers, to read, speak and sometimes even becoming their counselor has been amazing. I never thought I could be so sociable because I am an introvert.
RM has been working with a child who was severely traumatized, when he started doing drawings for her she realised he was beginning to find some positive meaning in his life.
Finally, this experience inspired me to work harder to help those that are unfortunate in Malaysia. In addition to that, I have decided to be more politically involve to help change the refugee situations in Malaysia. This will take time but I would like to stay optimistic. For now, I am working to get continuous funding for the school to stay active for the sake of the young children. Education should not be a privilege but a right given to all despite their status.”
Hoping the future will be sweeter than the past!