Welcoming newcomers in our midst

“Crossroads” emerges as a recent initiative, long-anticipated and conceived by the members of Young Lives Malaysia (formerly known as YLDC) is an initiative of Fondacio in Asia.

Nov 10, 2023

Maria Yan conducting sessions for the young refugee community

By Maria Yan
“Crossroads” emerges as a recent initiative, long-anticipated and conceived by the members of Young Lives Malaysia (formerly known as YLDC) is an initiative of Fondacio in Asia. This initiative is dedicated to addressing the pressing needs of the refugee community, which has faced dire circumstances following the coup in Myanmar.

The aftermath of the coup brought immense hardships and widespread displacement, leaving many individuals without the means to establish a stable livelihood in the midst of chaos. Through the power of social media and various news platforms, the world became aware of the harsh conditions and pervasive hopelessness experienced by these affected people.

The inaugural “Crossroads” programme was a result of close collaboration with several non-governmental organisations, including Health Equity Initiatives and North South Initiatives, along with leaders from various Myanmarese ethnic communities under the guidance of Tenaganita. Held between October 15 and 20, this programme warmly welcomed 28 recent arrivals from Myanmar. This intensive five-day initiative was meticulously crafted to cater to the immediate needs of these newcomers.

The programme kicked off with an introduction to the local culture, language, and the rich diversity of the country’s multicultural society. Participants gained valuable insights into the local legal framework, various levels of authorities, including a comprehensive understanding of human rights and the rights specific to displaced individuals and the workforce. Participants also received essential guidance on navigating circumstances related to arrest and detention, including proactive steps to take and potential pitfalls to avoid. Furthermore, they were equipped with valuable information about job and educational opportunities.

A variety of community and health-related topics were also addressed, encompassing subjects like birth control, personal hygiene, women’s issues, gender violence, and mental health strategies for coping with stress and distressing conditions. These sessions aimed to alleviate the fears and traumatic experiences encountered during their journey to Malaysia.

To instil positive attitudes and self-empowerment, participants engaged in activities that allowed them to create visual representations of their hopes and dreams. These exercises held deep meaning and fostered a sense of optimism and self-belief among the participants.

Post-programme, participants expressed encouraging and hopeful sentiments. Aung, a student, shared, “When I left my country, I had to abandon my university studies. My hope of returning seems shattered, but after this programme, I want to believe I can resume my studies and give myself a chance, no matter how challenging it may seem for the moment.”

Chan reflected on his journey, saying, “I’ve survived by working as a kitchen assistant, washing dishes, and waitressing. I aspire to change to a different line of work. I believe I can acquire new skills to improve my life.”

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