Sunday, 7 August 2011

Myanmarese refugees

This is my first visit to the Myanmarese refugees in Kuala Lumpur. There is about 500,000 Myanmareses work in Malaysia, legally and illegally, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee.
There was about 70 of us gathered in front of the Church in the morning, then we moved to the low cost flat where the Myanmarese refuge. We were asked to form a few small groups and each group assigned to one unit.

The moment I went in the apartment, it is small, about 400 sq ft. Each apartment consists of three bedrooms, one bathroom, one living room and one kitchen. Each bedroom is occupied by one Myanmarese family, and each family has six to eight members. In other word, there are 24 people staying in a place of 400 sq ft. Although the house is so crowded, it is well kept and tidy.

The Myanmareses are friendly, they are willing to share their stories with us. We had a huge communication barrier where they understand minimum of Malay language. Their husbands go out to earn a living and the wives stay at home to take care of the children. They hope that their husbands will get a good job and have a better paid. It is risky to work for a heartless employer because the employer might ask the local authority to detain them after they have performed their job in order to save cost.

Gather in front of their school which located in basement car park

After the visit, I made some sharing with my friends. The response is not so positive. One of the responses I have got is “Why do we want to help them? Our country crime rate is increasing, one of the reasons is because of them. They shouldn’t have come to Malaysia, they should bear the consequences.”

From the perspective of my friend, it is not wrong for him to think in this way. In my point of view, as a human, we should treat every human with love and mercy. They are like some of our friends who look for a job in developed country in hope of having a better living. As for the Myanmarese refugees, the main intention is to seek for freedom and liberty. These people travel from Burma to Malaysia by bus, truck, or even walk for months with a hope that they will be freed from force/slave labour and human trafficking. Unfortunately for some of them, Malaysia may not seem as good as what they thought. They wish to go home but it is impossible for they do not have the funds and in fear of detention by local authority, despite having received a refugee card from UNHCR (UN Refuge Agency)
A little help from you is a huge gift to them. Have mercy! God bless.

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