by Neha Patel, PACE Chair
Their struggles remind us of the facility and preciousness of human life, and the resilience of the human spirit. They are a testament to the enduring power of hope and the human capacity to overcome adversity.
As we embark on a new year, I’m once again thinking about the changes I want to make in my own life for 2023. This year, I have made resolutions to spend less time on social media, work on my flexibility/mobility and to take more risks (without fearing failure). I am hoping these resolutions translate into a “new life” or at the very least a “new purpose”.
And yet, for the Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia, the prospect of starting a new life is not just a resolution — it is a daily struggle and one they cannot afford to abandon.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group from Myanmar who have been subjected to persecution and violence for decades. In 2017, a military crackdown forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring countries, including Malaysia. Many Rohingya refugees arrive in Malaysia after a perilous journey by sea. The voyage can take weeks, and many refugees suffer from dehydration, starvation and illness. Some do not survive the journey.
D-Begum, a CSB student who came to Malaysia six years ago shares in the video below – the challenge of maintaining her focus on her studies in the face of intense pressure from her community to get married now that she has passed through puberty. D-Begum is only 17 years old and is lucky to have supportive parents who are willing to stand up to these members of her community – but nonetheless, she finds it hard to constantly be the subject of gossip and questioning about her choices to pursue education rather than an early marriage. D-Begum is one of CSB’s most promising students and PACE hopes to support her in her future studies. PACE is fund-raising this February to support D-Begum and others like her who remain resilient and determined to build a better future for themselves and their families. D-Begum is part of a community of survivors, who face daily pressure to give up on education. For the children in this community, we hope to raise enough money to solidify an education pathway to a new life.
As we reflect on the past year and consider our own goals for the future, we ask you to keep the Rohingya refugees front of mind. These individuals have faced unimaginable hardships and persecution in their homeland and have had to undertake a dangerous and uncertain journey to seek safety and a better life. Their struggles remind us of the facility and preciousness of human life, and the resilience of the human spirit. They are a testament to the enduring power of hope and the human capacity to overcome adversity.
This February, we hope to bring the UWCSEA Community together to provide them with a pathway to higher education – and help them build a brighter future in their new home. Starting a new life is not only for new year resolutions but for Rohingya refugees, it is their only chance for a better life.
Age – 17
With CSB for 6 years
Find out more here about PACE next Fundraising events:
East Campus: Friday, 17th February @ 7 pm
Dover Campus: Saturday, 18th February @ 7 pm