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A refuge for Myanmar refugee kids


A refuge for Myanmar refugee kids




Volunteers Heidy Quah and Khoo Ghee Ken (right) make lessons fun and interactive for the refugee kids.
Volunteers Heidy Quah and Khoo Ghee Ken (right) make lessons fun and interactive for the refugee kids.

A group of 18-year-olds take on the responsibility of providing education for over 70 Myanmar refugee kids.

IT is way after midnight and college student Heidy Quah is hunched over her desk, her brows furrowed in concentration.

Instead of surfing the Net, watching her favourite drama series or rushing to finish up some last-minute assignments like most of her peers, Quah is busy drawing and cutting out caricatures of various shapes and sizes.

“Sometimes I stay up till 4am to prepare my teaching materials,” says Quah.

The Diploma in Business student at a local college is a committed volunteer teacher at a refugee school where she conducts art and craft lessons, among others.

At just 18, Quah is the founder of a registered non-government organisation, Persatuan Kebajikan Perlindungan Kanak-kanak Pelarian (Refuge For The Refugees), which aims to provide education for Myanmar refugee children.

As of October last year, 91,520 Myanmar refugees and asylum seekers who are hoping to build a better life for themselves in First World countries like Australia, Canada and the United States, are temporarily placed in Malaysia. The immigration process usually takes up to several years before they are finally resettled in their designated countries.

Meanwhile, precious time goes by as children of these refugees – at the height of their formative years – have no access to the local education system due to their refugee status. The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) has teamed up with various NGOs to set up learning centres for them but out of 13,800 children who are of school-going age, only 40% of them have access to education.

Chin Children’s Education Centre (CCEC) is one such school. Over 70 Myanmar refugee children from ages four to 16 fill the dilapidated community hall of a low-cost flat in Kuala Lumpur, for five hours every weekday. The learning environment is far from conducive as the classes, which are separated by sheets of cloth, are all held in the small hall.

Five teachers – two sponsored by UNHCR while three are hired – work tirelessly to help the children learn English, Mathematics and Science. Due to the overwhelming number of students, the teachers are often unable to step into every class, leaving many of them unattended.

Ten-year-old Pari’s favourite subject is Science and she names Heidy her favourite teacher.
Ten-year-old Pari’s favourite subject is Science and she names Heidy her favourite teacher.

Early last year, Quah had just finished secondary school and was waiting to start college. After hearing about a volunteer opportunity at a school camp, she roped in her friends Andrea Prisha, Chan Weili and Khoo Ghee Ken to volunteer as teachers at CCEC on a weekly basis.

As time went by, the youths established a bond with the refugee kids and were devastated when they heard that the school had to close down in a matter of months.

“CCEC was funded by UNHCR for two years under the Social Protection Fund. The contract expired in July 2012 and was not renewed,” explains Quah.

With college just around the corner, the group was faced with the difficult decision of whether they should continue helping the school.

Eventually, Quah and her friends made the bold choice of not only continuing to teach the students every week but to take on the school’s financial burden as well.

Refuge For The Refugees came into the picture when Quah realised that corporations were sceptical about providing funding to an unregistered NGO. Apart from a few phone calls from apprehensive officials of the Registrar of Societies, the application process went smoothly and before they knew it, RFTR was up and running.

Six months have passed since its inception and Quah confesses that running the NGO has not been easy. They need about RM1,200 a month to keep the school going. This sum covers the rental, utility bills and stationery for the kids.

Sponsorships are hard to come by at times.

A curtain separates one class from another due to space constraints.
A curtain separates one class from another due to space constraints.


“When we e-mail companies for sponsorships and they find out that we are a bunch of 18-year-olds, many people think that we are up to no good,” says Quah. Thankfully, some sponsors are willing to keep an open mind. Quah recalls a man who wanted to see the school for himself before making a donation.

Online volunteer portals Do Good. Volunteer. and Do Something Good have also served as effective avenues for them to get the word out, fetching sizeable donations from the public. In times of financial drought, they manage to get by, raising small sums through fundraisers like bake sales.

When it comes to ensuring quality education for every child, the youths have to work doubly hard as they are not formally trained teachers. They even come up with their own educational materials to supplement those provided by UNHCR.

Quah and her friends sure know how to make lessons fun for the kids. Sweets are used to help the younger kids learn how to count, while art and craft lessons provide an avenue for the students to develop their creativity.

“RFTR is compiling a proper syllabus for the year, so volunteers can start teaching immediately without having to prepare any material,” shares Quah.

“To get round the language barrier, we carry an English to Chin (dialect) dictionary,” Khoo adds.

The team volunteers for two hours on Wednesdays but every visit to CCEC takes a whopping three hours for the team to travel to and fro, as they rely on public transport. On top of that, they have to allocate time to plan for the day’s lesson besides finding ways to raise funds.

Andrea, a Foundation in Arts student at a local university, asserts that volunteering does not affect her studies.

“College is a priority for me, but these kids mean a lot to me as well. If I have assignments, I will finish them first to make time to volunteer; it is workable,” says Andrea.

Although Khoo, an A-Level student, is unable to teach during weekdays, he helps out with events on weekends, drafts proposals and letters, and updates their Facebook page.


Chan, an Australian Matriculation student, does not mind turning down movie outings and skipping teh tarik sessions with friends, just so she can find time for her volunteer work. “Sacrifices have to be made from time to time if I am to teach at the centre,” says Chan.

It helps that the parents of these dedicated and committed youths are supportive of their activities.

Quah and her team of enthusiastic volunteers dispel the common perception that young people just want to have fun and take little interest in the plight of the less fortunate. Khoo points out that many of his peers are not involved in volunteer work because the avenues just aren’t presented to them.

Quah believes parents play an important role in instilling compassion for the underprivileged, in their children. “My parents exposed me to people who were less fortunate from a very young age. We used to celebrate Chinese New Year in orphanages where we would play and sing songs with the kids,” she recalls.

“When I don’t see them for a week and they tell me they miss me, that makes me happy,” says Andrea.

Quah finds great satisfaction in charting the children’s progress. “There was this boy in my class who used to be very destructive. He would hit other kids for no apparent reason. I later learned that his dad is an alcoholic who physically abuses him. I decided to pay more attention to him and appointed him as class monitor. So instead of starting fights, he is now the one who stops fights,” says Quah, who is proud to note a change in the boy’s behaviour.

Indeed, it is positive changes like these which keep the youths going. Quah is driven by a vision to take RFTR to a new level and reach out to more refugee children so that they can also enjoy the gift of education.

To make a donation or find out more about volunteer opportunities at Refuge For The Refugees, call Heidy Quah (012-307 3714) or visit facebook.com/refugefortherefugees or e-mail refugefortherefugees@gmail.com.



Banned from Boing Boing for Pro-Israel Comments?


Banned from Boing Boing for Pro-Israel Comments?


By Jonathon Narvey
Boing Boing’s editors are totally committed to free speech and fighting online censorship except when it comes to debunking lies about Palestinians or promoting Israel’s right to self-defense, apparently.I’m banned from commenting on the site.

Darn it. I really liked that site — the “blog of interesting things”. It’s my default site for strange, funny, nerdy stuff. It’s too bad the site moderator Antinous appears to have little patience for, you know, other opinions besides those that still believe (against all evidence) that Palestinians live in an open-air prison or that Israelis are acting like Nazis. This is often what happens when science nerds pretend to also be politics nerds.

Banned. Wow. Sorry if I’m dwelling on this. I know it’s a great example of a First World Problem. But I’m a nerd. I feel comfortable in the company of other nerds, even online (OK, especially online). Now I feel like I’ve been rejected from a popular island of nerddom and can’t go back (Oh sure, I can visit — they just don’t want me messing up their nice online beach).

But now Woody Allen’s quote about any club that would have him as a member is coming back to me…

Anyway, it started with this Boing Boing post, Israel live-tweets Gaza offensive.

Some anonymous guy (aren’t they always) named zombiebob posts this comment:

You forgot to mention how the people doing the rocketing were displaced from their homes and moved into a ghetto (much like the ones the Nazi’s set up in WW2) by the people they are doing the rocketing towards.

An astute commenter named rigs responds (in part):

The only slight differences are that in the Nazi ghettos population growth was -20% a year (-40% in the Warsaw ghetto) while in Gaza it’s one of the highest in the world at around 7%, that in the Nazi ghettos tens of thousands of people died of hunger, while Gaza has one of the highest obesity levels in the Arab world, and the really insignificant fact that it took the Nazis less than 4 months from the time an uprising started until they completely liquidated (as in killed everyone in) the ghetto, while the population of Gaza has more than doubled since the first intifada.

Yup. That’s what I keep telling people.

Antinous (the moderator) responds:

Well, if it’s not actually as bad as the holocaust, then taking people’s property and herding them into camps is just hunky dory.

Pro tip: talking about how Gazans are fat and breed too much doesn’t do your argument any favors.

Hmmm. Methinks rigs needs a wingman to handle the flak. I leave my two cents:

1. “if it’s not actually as bad as the holocaust…”

It’s not. If what was happening in Gaza was even remotely “as bad as the holocaust” there would be no Palestinian Arabs left in Gaza. They’d all be dead, plus or minus a few living in basements or sewers. Instead, they’ve got double-digit population growth and economic conditions that are better than in Egypt and Turkey — and are not even remotely as bad as places like Haiti or Afghanistan. http://www.jewishfederations.org/page.aspx?id=105003

Naturally, the main reason Gazans don’t live as well as they’d like is because their territory is run by Hamas. If your neighborhood was run by jihadist terrorists, you’d have lots to complain about, too.

2. “Pro tip: talking about how Gazans are fat and breed too much doesn’t do your argument any favors.” That seems to be a deliberate misreading of what rigs is saying.

It’s common among “human rights activists” to talk about a “humanitarian catastrophe” and “starvation” that simply does not exist. There are problems in Gaza but malnutrition is not one of them. And it’s not like Israeli soldiers are force-feeding Palestinians into an obesity epidemic any more than Taco Bell employees are force-feeding Americans into their own “lifestyle choice. So rigs was simply refuting a pervasive lie.

Later in the comment stream, Linkman notes:

1) There are no settlers in Gaza.  Israel forcibly removed every last settler.  And the blockade (as problematic as it is) only began after Hamas took over Gaza and started the rocket campaign post-withdrawal.  It’s a game of chicken and somebody needs to give, because innocents on both sides are suffering.  But if your next door neighbor has repeatedly tried to kill you in the past and continues to swear he’s going to kill you, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to stop him from getting better weapons?

Heeeyyyy, right. How are Hamas fighting against an occupation if there are no occupiers left in Gaza and haven’t been since 2005? Controling the border (particularly when Egypt does the same thing with Gaza) isn’t occupation; otherwise, America would be occupying Mexico, Mexico would be occupying America and Switzerland would be occuping the great powers of Europe.

But Antinous ain’t having any of that. The Palestinians are downtrodden, damnit.

They take land from Palestinians, bulldoze the buildings and give the land to ultra-orthodox Jewish nutjobs to build settlements. There’s not really any nuance in any of this.

Sooooo… even if none of that is precisely true, if Palestinians want to shoot at Israelis, they’ve got all the justification in the world. Right? That’s what that means, right? Aw hell. I wish he’d just come out and say it. But who knows what he was thinking.

A little while later, I notice a new dumb line being trotted out by SomeGuyNamedMark, about Ahmed Jabari (the Hamas terror mastermind who got blowed up real good by the IDF):

If they knew where exactly this guy was (and obviously they did) and he was such a criminal then why didn’t they make any attempt to arrest him?  Don’t tell me Israel couldn’t have.

I wasn’t going to let that one go. Here’s where I jump in:

Why arrest a terrorist when you can kill him?

I’m not being sarcastic. No point in fighting these wars with one hand tied behind your back.

Jabari had a lot of blood on his hands. He was a killer and a leader of killers.

Re: “Don’t tell me Israel couldn’t have”.

Yes, Israel could have gone in with ground forces to arrest a known terrorist, which would have begun a wider war with more casualties — not an ideal outcome if it can be avoided.

I take it you’re also against US drone attacks on Al Qaeda terrorists?

(“But, but, but, they’re all innocent farmers with no connection to jihad or terrorism and don’t you know that all Pakistanis are armed with grenade launchers and mortars to protect their poor little dirt farm that’s in a cave in the middle of a mountain range?)

Aaaaaand… that’s it. I got banned from commenting. They didn’t tell me why. It just happened.

Not sure if it was necessarily for pointing out that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza (well, not one caused by Israel. Hamas on the other hand…).

Maybe it was because I advocated killing terrorists — something that really ought to be kosher in any forum that decides to discuss, you know, terrorists raining rockets on innocent civilians. Or maybe it was because I prescribed the same treatment for jihadist terrorists in Afghanistan?

Killing terrorists who threaten your citizens; Yeeesss, that highly controversial policy that seems to have been adopted by every government in the world.

Was that why I got banned? Who knows. If you want to chat in the comments in this post, I can say that I wouldn’t ban anyone for taking such a position.

That said, if you want to argue the moral case for shooting missiles at schoolchildren (as long as they’re Israeli), it seems your comments may be welcome over at Boing Boing. Cheers.

Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist


Romney Touts ‘Prosperity Pacts’ To Help Middle East, Developing Nations


Romney Touts ‘Prosperity Pacts’ To Help Middle East, Developing Nations

September 25, 2012 9:52 AM

One former president, one would-be: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (left), spoke this morning at former President Bill Clinton’s annual forum in New York City. President Obama addresses the Clinton Global Initiative later today.

Mandel Ngan /AFP/Getty Images

One former president, one would-be: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (left), spoke this morning at former President Bill Clinton’s annual forum in New York City. President Obama addresses the Clinton Global Initiative later today.

Saying that foreign aid must play a role in bringing peace to the Middle East, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made the case today for what he calls “prosperity pacts” that would aim U.S. assistance packages at nations that develop “the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights.”

Romney was addressing the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, a forum that will host President Obama later today.

If he’s elected in November, Romney said (per his prepared remarks):

“To foster work and enterprise in the Middle East and in other developing countries, I will initiate ‘Prosperity Pacts.’ Working with the private sector, the program will identify the barriers to investment, trade, and entrepreneurialism in developing nations. In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights.

“We will focus our efforts on small and medium-size businesses. Microfinance has been an effective tool at promoting enterprise and prosperity, but we must expand support to small and medium-size businesses that are too large for microfinance, but too small for traditional banks.

“The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise. Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America’s own economy — free people pursuing happiness in their own ways build a strong and prosperous nation.”

Romney introduced that proposal by saying he is “often asked why, and what can we do to lead the Middle East to stability, to ease the suffering and the anger and the hate.

“Religious extremism is certainly part of the problem. But that’s not the whole story.

“The population of the Middle East is young, particularly compared with the population of the West. And typically, these young people have few job prospects and the levels of youth unemployment across the region are excessive and chronic. In nations that have undergone a change in leadership recently, young people have greater access to information that was once carefully guarded by tyrants and dictators. They see the good as well as the bad in surrounding societies. They can now organize across vast regions, mobilizing populations. Idle, humiliated by poverty, and crushed by government corruption, their frustration and anger grows.

“In such a setting, for America to change lives, to change communities and nations in the Middle East, foreign aid must also play a role. And the shape that role should take was brought into focus by the life and death of Muhammed Bouazizi of Tunisia, the street vendor whose self-immolation sparked the Arab Spring.

“He was just 26-years-old. He had provided for his family since he was a young boy. He worked a small fruit stand, selling to passers-by. The regular harassment by corrupt bureaucrats was elevated one day when they took crates of his fruit and his weighing scales away from him.

“On the day of his protest, witnesses say that an officer slapped Bouazizi and he cried out, ‘Why are you doing this to me? I’m a simple person, and I just want to work.’

“I just want to work.

“Work. That must be at the heart of our effort to help people build economies that can create jobs for people, young and old alike. Work builds self-esteem. It transforms minds from fantasy and fanaticism to reality and grounding. Work will not long tolerate corruption nor quietly endure the brazen theft by government of the product of hard-working men and women.”


Give voice to refugees



Palestinian refugees: time to return NOW



Pictures from Khao I Dang refugee camp, Thailand 1980-82.


Warning : viewers must be above 18years old

Memories of the Khoa I Dang Refugee Camp 1986 to 1988


Cambodia Refugee Camp – Site2 (part1)


Umpium Refugee Camp in fire 23 02 2012


on fire in Umpiem Camp (MCA News)


Dadaab Refugee Camp – Kenya (Africa)


A song at Nu Po Camp



Displaced Karen Refugees in Jungle


23Kachin IDP/Refugee Camps – March-April-2012



Zaatari Refugee Camp Jordan – 31 Oct 2012.



Angelina Jolie in a refugee camp in Syria (09-13-2012)



Angelina Jolie Visits Syrian Refugees in Turkey


Madonna’s U.S. Tour Stop’s Message: ‘Don’t Get Fat And Lazy,’ Respect Democracy


Madonna’s U.S. Tour Stop’s Message: ‘Don’t Get Fat And Lazy,’ Respect Democracy


PHILADELPHIA — As she kicked off the U.S. leg of her “MDNA Tour” in Philadelphia, Madonna said she was happy to party in the USA after touring Europe for three months.

The pop icon told the crowd Tuesday night they should “never forget how lucky you are to live where you live and to have the freedom that you have.” She made the comments after talking about the arrest of three members of the punk-rock female band Pussy Riot. The women were sentenced to two years in prison after performing a “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Christ the Savior cathedral in which they called on the Virgin Mary to deliver Russia from its leader, Vladimir Putin.

“In my travels around the world the one thing I truly witnessed is we in America have freedom of speech, freedom of expression,” the singer said.

Madonna, who toured most of Europe from June to August, has called for the Pussy Riot members to be freed. Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel also have spoken in the women’s favor.

“I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that I’m in the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed,” Madonna said at the Wells Fargo Center to nearly 20,000 fans. “We are in the land of democracy.”

Russian activists recently sued Madonna for millions of dollars, claiming they were offended by her support for gay rights during her show in St. Petersburg. A law passed in February makes it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors, and the author of that law has pointed to the presence of children as young as 12 at Madonna’s concert on Aug. 9. (Minors also attended Madonna’s U.S. show.)

When speaking about Pussy Riot, Madonna said that about 80 gay men were jailed in St. Petersburg because of their sexual orientation. She told the crowd that the arrests were unfair, and they booed in her support.

Then the 53-year-old told the U.S. audience: “Don’t get fat and lazy and take that freedom for granted.”

Madonna kicked off her concert late on Tuesday, apologizing to the crowd, who began to boo before she hit the stage around 10:30 p.m. EST.

“We had many changes to make from Europe to America, and I wanted the show to be perfect for you because my fans deserve it and quite frankly I deserve it,” she said.

She performed for nearly two hours, starting in a skin-tight black ensemble with a gun in hand as she sang the song “Girls Gone Wild” from her latest album “MDNA.” She transitioned to “Revolver,” as she and her background dancers held guns and bullets appeared on the backdrop. (Madonna posted on her website that she does not condone violence or the use of guns and she’s using fake guns in concert as a metaphor for strength.) During the next song – “Gang Bang” – she shot a man and spat what appeared to be liquor in his face, while blood spats and bloody hands appeared on the screen.

The dark mood escaped as Madonna changed into a red and white marching band get-up, singing “Express Yourself” and “Give Me All Your Luvin'” as a marching band played to the crowd. She sang some of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” pulling up her skirt to reveal her red shorts.

Madonna’s performances of “Celebration” and “I’m Addicted” were also colorful, as laser lights beamed and the venue became nightclub-like. Madonna’s best vocal performance, though, was during “Like a Prayer,” which featured more than 30 back-up singers in robes. She got the best response from the crowd when she performed “Vogue,” as the dancers and Madonna – now in a corset, long gloves and her hair pulled back – strutted in black and white onstage.

She got racy during “Like a Virgin” and “Human Nature,” taking off her shirt to reveal her bra, and pulling down her pants to reveal her thong (she wore fishnet stockings).

“Sometimes it’s easier to show your (butt) than show your feelings. Maybe tonight we can all live dangerously,” said Madonna, who had the words “No Fear” on her back.





This dog was born on Christmas Eve in the year 2002. He was born  with   2   legs – He  of course could not walk when he was born. Even his mother did not  want him. 

His  first owner also did not think that he could survive and he was  thinking of ‘putting him to sleep’.

But  then, his present owner, Jude Stringfellow, met him and wanted   to take care of him.

She  became determined to teach and train this little dog to walk by  himself.

She  named him ‘Faith’. 

In  the beginning, she put Faith on a surfboard to let him feel the  movement.
Later  she used peanut  butter on a spoon as a lure and reward for  him for standing up and jumping around.

Even  the other dog at home encouraged him to walk..

Amazingly,  only after 6 months, like a miracle,

Faith  learned to balance on his hind legs and to jump to move forward.

After  further training in the snow, he could now walk like a human  being.. 

Faith  loves to walk around now.

No  matter where he goes, he attracts people to him.

He  is fast becoming famous on the international scene and

has  appeared on various newspapers and TV shows.

There  is now a book entitled ‘With a Little Faith’ being published about  him.

He  was even considered to appear in one of Harry Potter  movies. 

His  present owner Jude Stringfellew has  given up her teaching post  and plans to take him around the world to   preach that even without a perfect body, one can have a perfect  soul’. 

In  life there are always undesirable things, so in order to feel better  you just need to look at life from another direction.

I  hope this message will bring fresh new ways of thinking to everyone and  that everyone will appreciate and be thankful for each beautiful  day.

Faith  is the continual demonstration of the strength and wonder of  life.





Greetings from Kampala! On behalf of the staff and Volunteers of Peace Corps/Uganda, let me say that we are very pleased that youare considering an invitation to join us as a Volunteer. You will join agroup of more than 1,000 former Volunteers who have responded tothe invitation to serve in Uganda.This is an exciting time to be in Uganda. The education system isstretched to the breaking point in a committed effort to provideuniversal primary and, recently, secondary education to the coun-try’s children.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has hit Uganda hard,is entering a new phase as people gain access to HIV/AIDS drugsand strive to find ways to live with the disease in hope, rather thanin despair. Prevention of new transmissions is now the focus, as isa more holistic approach to health care in general. Finally, whileUganda has abundant resources of water, minerals, timber, and arableland, there are serious challenges to putting them to optimal use toraise economic standards for all Ugandans. Education, health careand economic development lay the foundation to make a difference inUganda as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Former Volunteers will tell you the rewards of the hard work youinvest and the benefits of your experience will far outweigh the inevi-table frustrations and challenges you will encounter.
If you decide tocome to Uganda, you will be making an important commitment, onefraught with difficulties yet rich with fulfillment. A two-year commit-ment to the Peace Corps and to the people of a community in Ugandais not to be made casually. You must make it and remake it in numer-ous ways throughout your two years of service. You will be challengedin ways imaginable and unimaginable.
Your patience will be tried toits limits. But if you come here with an open mind, a warm heart, agood sense of humor, a willingness to evaluate and adjust your expec-tations, and a focus on the needs of others rather than your own, youwill do well. The Peace Corps’ trainers and staff members are hereto help you, but you will be the primary architect and judge of yourexperience as a Volunteer. We offer you this opportunity to serve thepeople of Uganda and to have an experience that will change the way you look at the world and at yourself.
Country Director