The One about Rohingya Refugees

22 Nov

Amidst the hustle and bustle of my busy days, I seldom stop to reflect on how life may not have dealt the same cards to others. Being taken away from my little bubble can be jarring, because only during those times do I realize that there are real, bigger problems out there in the world.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine invited me along to his friend’s gallery. We almost missed the gallery because it was hidden, tucked in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s most hectic areas. But I’m glad we didn’t because it turned out to be quite an experience.

To be honest, there was little that I knew about the Rohingya refugees. I knew they are a Muslim minority group from Rakhine state, but that they are not recognized as an ethnic group from Myanmar. They fled to mostly Southeast Asian countries seeking help, refuge and support. That was about the extent of my knowledge on the refugees.


The photos at the gallery highlighted their plight, at least here in Malaysia. Most of the Rohingya people tried to stay close to one another, but of course, there are very few areas that could accommodate such large numbers on families. Because of their status, the children cannot attend school, and the adults cannot apply for jobs. In many ways, I imagine it is like living in limbo.


While the United Nation has tried its best, priority often goes to women and children in being issued an ID. But still, according to the photojournalist, their options are limited even with the ID. Since the men, who are often the breadwinner of the families are not prioritized, they often have difficulty in getting jobs.

I volunteer with NGOs, where we too prioritize women and children. But in doing so, I never did think of the consequences. I always thought what we did was making things more equal. But perhaps, equal sometimes means taking away opportunities from others.

At the end of the day, I realized that my life is blessed. I have a roof over my head, citizenship, a good job, family that are near and dear, and opportunities, millions of them. As for the Rohingyas, I do hope they get more help, especially in terms of education for the kids. Because no matter how life turns out, I always hope that every child has a fighting chance, and it always starts with education.

*Disclaimer: The photos were obtained online, they are not from the gallery I went to.


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