Last year, I did my Research Project regarding the Rohingya refugees which made me realised a lot of the stuffs that I never ever paid attention to before. Im not yet an expert in things regarding the refugees as there are so much more reading that I have to do but there are some vital things that I think everyone should be more aware of – the two important privileges we have as Malaysians.
Our national identification card
Have you ever look to your blue card and be grateful that you own it? Most of the time I am not really attentive of my IC until I started misplacing it. I even went to camp last week without my IC and only realised it when we played a game where an IC was needed. My mom always jokes on how if I don’t have it with me the police might mistaken me for an Indonesian. Well, I never really took that seriously and I just see the card as a normal card with my identification on it.
When I researched on the problems Rohingya refugees faced in Malaysia, almost everything falls back to the fact that they do not own any form of identification. Back in Myanmar, Rohingyas are not recognised as one of the many ethnics. The government refused to acknowledge their existence thus they are known to be stateless. Being stateless is when you are not recognised as a citizen of any country. When you are not considered as a citizen of your own country, you lost all the rights you should have. Rohingyas are not able to have access to public education, to have jobs, obtain medical treatment and the list goes on and on. Can you imagine that? Being rejected in the country you were born in and what’s worst, many Rohingyas were killed and tortured. The history behind all these violence goes a long way back and I really do encourage people to read about it (I couldn’t write everything here so if you have the time, you should try and google it). Rohingyas came all the way to Malaysia in hoping to live a better life but sadly, even here, they still face all kinds of hardship. The fact that they do not have an identification card it forbids them to apply for a work permit, attend public schools or even get married legally. The UNHCR do give out refugee cards but not all of them are entitled to it. It hits me then how having an identity that is recognised is a HUGE deal. My point is, be grateful that you can call yourself Malaysian and you have a country you can call home. We can walk around town without the fear that we might get caught. We are able to seek for a job without being questioned where we come from. We can apply for a driving license and drive to anywhere we want to. We have the rights to public healthcare along so many other rights as a Malaysian. Alhamdulillah.
Attending public schools
I still remember how I refused to go to my evening session school which is an Islamic school. In Johor, students must attend Islamic school on top of attending primary school. I get tired easily and everyday I’ll make up different excuses to just skip school. I’ll pretend to be fast asleep even after my parents waking me up for so many times. What can I say, I am a pretty rebellious child. When I volunteered to tutor Rohingya children, I was literally mesmerised. It really did make me realise how lucky I am to be able to attend primary school and then to a boarding school and to college. These children came running up the stairs on a Saturday morning eager to learn anything you are willing to share. I was in charged of children aged 3-5 years old and these children are truly happy even when you just started singing ABC to them. They could not really read yet and explaining them simple words and their meaning is quite difficult as they are not that fluent in both English and Malay. They can count numbers up to 10 but only few can do simple additions. They do have school from Monday till Friday where Rohingya adults themselves will teach them but I was told that their syllabus is not that advance comparing to Malaysian syllabus. (Mind you that this is only an example from the centre I went. There are a number of centres around KL which may have different systems and syllabus) Some older children aged 13 and above are still struggling with divisions and what not and Malaysians here are already on algebra, differentiation and integration. And that’s only Maths, I haven’t even started on Physics, History, Biology, Geography, Living Skills, Chemistry and so on. How lucky we are to learn all of these at school and that we have certified teachers to answer all the questions that lingers in our mind. I remember asking the owner of the centre about the future of these children and he returned my question with a faint smile. More often than not, when they turned 15, they will start helping their parents to find income for the family by working at the market, collecting old steels and all kinds of odd jobs. Seeing this situation made me truly more grateful for the rezeki Allah blessed me with. I am able to receive education as early as a 4 year old child until this very moment and Alhamdulillah I am financially supported. From that day onwards I get a little bit pissed off if I hear people skipping schools when they feel like it because you don’t know how others are dying to be in your spot. Rohingya children are more than willing to attend school and to learn while some of us feels like sleeping in on a Monday morning *sigh*. I’m a tad bit emotional about this because I really do value education and I believe everyone should to. Be grateful that you are allowed to attend school/college/university and receive a certification which can be used to further your studies or to apply jobs. Even when life seems to be hard for you, thank Allah that you were given an opportunity when someone else didn’t.
Regarding my research project, Alhamdulillah I received an A from it. I made a magazine as my research outcome and I do have a video of it but couldn’t upload it so I’ll just upload a collage of it here. Please don’t expect a professional magazine as I only made it using powerpoint and all the editing skills I have in store but overall I’m certainly proud of it : )
Till next time!