Tenaganita co-founder Aegile Fernandez dies

Tenaganita director Aegile Fernandez has passed away at the age of 72, following a period of illness.

Mar 13, 2021

PETALING JAYA: Tenaganita director Aegile Fernandez has passed away at the age of 72, following a period of illness.

Her family said in an announcement that she passed away at 1.26pm on Tuesday, March 9.

“Aegile has been a warm glow of comfort in so many lives and a bright and enduring light in the fight for justice and equality. We ask that if you are comfortable, please light a candle for her today.

“Importantly, she'd want you to keep up her mission for justice, her practice of kindness, her open heart to all who have the least.

“In the words of Aegile, her reminder to us of her mission in life: Ask me not what’s my race or creed, just take me in my hour of need,” the announcement read.

Aegile hailed from the rubber plantations of Sungai Petani, Kedah, and is the younger sister of Tenaganita’s founder Irene Fernandez who died in 2014.

She started social work when she was 16 years old, and went on to work with prisoners, sex workers, drug addicts, HIV/Aids patients, domestic abuse victims, refugees, human trafficking victims, and abused children.

She joined Tenaganita in 1993 as her sister was setting up a migrant and human trafficking desk.

She vowed that she could never stop her work because there is so much to be done.

Aegile’s wake was held on Wednesday, March 10, from 10.00am to 8.00pm and on Thursday, Mar 11, from 10.00am to 8.00pm.

Five people were allowed at a time and attendees needed to pre-register.

The funeral took place on Friday, March 12, at the Church of Divine Mercy in Shah Alam, Selangor.

The family also said that donations can be given to survivors of trafficking in honour of Aegile. Please log on to http://www.tenaganita.net for details.  ––Malaysiakini

Some tributes to Aegile

“We have one fewer human rights defender of migrants, women and the poor. But her legacy will carry on in the work of Tenaganita and many more. Farewell, my friend. Rest in peace,” — Klang MP Charles Santiago

University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Bridget Welsh described Fernandez as a warrior for justice, adding that her spirit would live on despite her passing.

“For decades she fought for the rights of migrants and Malaysians selflessly and worked towards a more tolerant, kind and inclusive world,” she said.

Social and political activist Ambiga Sreenevasan also took to Twitter to pay tribute to the Tenaganita co-founder, saying she spent her life “fighting the good fight”.

“All of us at the US Embassy of Kuala Lumpur are saddened to hear of the passing of Aegile Fernandez, Co-founder and Director of Tenaganita. Our deepest condolences to Aegile’s family and her many friends and admirers.

“Aegile was a leading voice in championing the rights of marginalised and vulnerable individuals. She worked tirelessly to provide an avenue for these voices to be heard globally.

“We are proud to call her an alumna of our StateIVLP, as well as a nominee for the International Women of Courage #IWOC award, which recognises women around the world who have shown courage and leadership in advocating for peace, human rights, and women’s empowerment.”

“We have lost our precious Aegile Fernandez. Our loss is now heaven’s gain.

“After Irene Fernandez passed away, Aegile carried on her good works. I was very moved by Irene’s funeral. I remember seeing migrant workers coming to her house to pay their last respects. That is what counts at the end of our lives — the impact and influence we leave behind.

“I became interested to know more about Tenaganita. I first met Aegile when I was ADUN Subang Jaya. Back then, we did a lot of awareness programmes on fighting trafficking. I have learned a lot about trafficking and migrant rights because of Aegile's labour. Aegile taught me about the forms of human trafficking — starvation, prostitution, forced labour and torture.

“Aegile was always only a phone call away. When I had any questions or cases, Aegile was always available for a quick chat. We have lost another fighter, a sister and a friend for the migrant community. She will be dearly missed. Rest now dear Aegile. Thank you for your years of labour. Great is your reward in Heaven.” Segambut MP YB Hannah Yeoh

“APRRN would like to pay tribute to Aegile Fernandez, the Co-Founder & Director of  Tenaganita  who passed away, March 9. Aegile was an avid advocate for migrants and refugees. She dedicated much of her life to fighting for the rights of the marginalised in Malaysia.

“We are deeply saddened by and mourn the loss of one of Malaysia’s most influential rights activists, Aegile Fernandez. She dedicated her life to the selfless and unrelenting pursuit of justice and fairness for everyone, regardless of race, gender or nationality. — Amnesty International Malaysia

“Farewell friend, Aegile Fernandez, Tenaganita activist and defender of migrants.” — Migrant Care executive director Wahyu Susilo

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