Singapore—In a display of kindness and solidarity, volunteers from the Project Humanitarian Hearts to Hands in Nee Soon East and Darul Makmur mosque went to Johor to break fast with Rohingya refugees. They spent time with the refugee children, with a well planned day filled with activities.
Their purpose: to raise awareness for Asia’s refugees through volunteering initiatives.
On May 22, Wednesday, around 20 grassroots and mosque volunteers spent time with Rohingya refugees, now located in Johor. They also hosted around 40 refugee children for a fun-filled day of activities at Pulai Springs Resort.
The children, students from the Kulai branch of Soroptimist International Johor Baru (SIJB) Learning Centre, were able to do origami folding, some singing and dancing, watched a film showing of the Disney movie Moana, and had a buffet dinner at the restaurant in Pulai Springs Resort.
SIJB Learning Centre was set up especially for refugee children who cannot attend government schools. Another SIJB Learning Centre branch is located at Kota Tinggi.
As of April, there were approximately 90,200 Rohingyas among the 170,460 refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, according to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
MP Louis Ng said it is the second year running that Project Humanitarian Hearts to Hands has broken fast with the refugees during Ramadan. “This is the same as what we do in Singapore with lower-income families. We want to make sure the refugee children also enjoy things such as buffet dinners for iftar. For some of them, this experience is extraordinary.”
He wrote on his Facebook account on May 24, Thursday:
[ Not forgetting those who have so little ]
They don’t have much… Their parents lost almost everything as they had to leave their country in search of a place they can call home, in search of something we sometimes take for granted – citizenship.
But I’m so glad the little ones had fun yesterday and for many of them, it was their first time having a nice meal in a nice hotel. We also did some craft, played games and watched a movie together.
It was a very special iftar event with our refugee friends. Thank you to the Darul Makmur Mosque for supporting and joining us. Thank you to volunteers from our Project Humanitarian: Hearts to Hands for organising this. And a BIG thank you to the Soroptimist International Club of Johor Bahru for caring and setting up a school for the children
Remember, “there is no us or them. There is only us, one human family, connected in ways we sometimes forget”.
#WeLoveNeeSoonEast #NeeSoonCares #HomeWithAHeart
He also said that the children have no passports, and therefore cannot leave Malaysia. They are also unable to enjoy things such as meals in hotels.
“This experience is to give them the chance to enjoy what many of us enjoy and a childhood filled with happy memories. You saw how happy they were when they ran towards the swimming pool. They were very excited.”
He also said that there are ways that Singaporeans can extend help to refugees. “While we don’t accept refugees in Singapore, there’s still a lot we can do. This is a humanitarian issue that all of us can play a part and help make a difference in,” he said.
He added that the volunteers paid for their own transportation and other expenses on Wednesday.
“We want to show the kids that people do care about them. They were born as refugees, and they all want something that Singaporeans take for granted – citizenship.”
As for the mosque volunteers, Muhammad Fazli Naim, 35, senior youth development officer and head of the youth wing at Darul Makmur mosque in Yishun Avenue 2, said, ”Rohingyas are part of Asia, and as refugees, are the closest to us geographically. We also often hear news about the plight of Rohingyas. It’s quite close to our hearts, as we are Muslims also.”/ TISG