Monday, Dec 10th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Thursday, 08 November 2018 00:00

A Day to Bring Smiles to Refugees

Written by  Ho Wan Chin / KL & Selangor

A group photo of 21 graduates with Dr Foo Seay Liang (white top), UNHCR Tzu-Chi Project Coordinator; and retired principals, Tan Woon Kee and Lim Choy Kim from Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]

To most people, November 10, 2018 was probably just another Saturday, but to a group of refugee parents and children, it was a big day that they had been patiently waiting for. Donned in their best attire and with excitement in their eyes, they prepared for the event of their lifetime – the Graduation & Prize Giving Ceremony for their children.


In Tzu Chi, refugees are no different from anyone else. In fact, they should be given more love and care since they are in a foreign land and returning to their homeland is but a bleak prospect for most. Understanding their plight and suffering, Tzu Chi volunteers mindfully put together a programme that aimed to bring smiles and plant beautiful memories in them.

The arrival of the refugee children and their parents began as busloads of them were dropped off at the entrance of the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. The transport arrangement itself was part of the programme. Tzu Chi volunteers were assigned as bus leaders, responsible for not only ferrying the guests but providing them with food and drinks, and above all, the signature Tzu Chi hospitality.

For some, this was their first visit to Jing Si Hall, and despite being awed by the aura and grandeur of the building, the parents and children behaved in an orderly manner, patiently following instructions. This was but a reflection of the trust and respect they have for Tzu Chi, established through years of support from Tzu Chi and UNHCR.

“I need to work on weekends, but I took the day off today for this event. My daughter asked me to and I agreed immediately,” said Kassom, the proud father of Ummida, a student of the UNHCR Tzu-Chi Education Centre (Harmony School). His friend, Md Salleh, excitedly added that he too has a pair of children taking part in the Graduation & Prize Giving Ceremony. Seeing that their children had been rehearsing for this ceremony for weeks, they were here to support and cheer their children on.

Deputy Representative of UNHCR, Ms Maja Lazic, gave an opening speech in which she rightly stated that education is the foundation of our lives, but above all, education empowers, protects and cultivates friendships. Upon hearing this, a sense of gratefulness engulfed some of the audience. Being a Tzu Chi volunteer has allowed many to help refugees in an impactful way. And this opportunity is open to all of us here in Malaysia, if we are willing to extend that helping hand.

Touching moments

As if by tradition, the year’s Graduation & Prize Giving Ceremony (the 11th Graduation & Prize Giving Ceremony for UNHCR Tzu-Chi Education Centres) was also filled with endless highlights and spectacular performances by primary to secondary students, ranging from singing (including Chinese songs!), dancing, skits, and many more. Each of the performances ended with a thundering applause from their peers and huge smiles on the faces of the proud parents.

In between performances, parent representatives Md Rofiq and Sumarsih gave their speeches, which were full of gratefulness to UNHCR and Tzu Chi for providing the most essential and powerful resource to their children – access to education.

The audience also got to hear from Best Student Award winners – Mubarak Abdul Rashid (from Unity School) and Nur Lailah (from Harmony School) – both outstanding teenagers who spoke fluently and confidently in English. Mubarak shared that life as a refugee is one that is filled with challenges, especially in receiving education. And that was why the graduation day was a very special day to him. He further shared that after graduation, some of them will progress from primary to secondary school, while the rest will enrol in special programmes organized by UNHCR and Tzu Chi. He was grateful to the teachers and volunteers for guiding him to become a better person. Lailah, on the other hand, shared that she had completed her Year 6 and together with her friends, they will enrol into IDEAS Academy to pursue further education. She knew all that was made possible only because of UNHCR, Tzu Chi, and its teachers and volunteers.

Special recognition was given to a group of tutors, including those from Nottingham University, who had provided voluntary tuition classes to the refugee children continuously for three years since 2016. In addition, the programme included a session where a group of dedicated volunteers from Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association were called onto the stage to be recognized for their dedication and commitment to the UNHCR Tzu-Chi Education Centres.

The event came to a close with the singing of a signature Tzu Chi song, “We Are One Family”. The difference this time was that it was sung by the refugee children and their parents, only because they had truly felt the warmth of their family members – the Tzu Chi family.

 

Deputy Representative of UNHCR, Ms Maja Lazic, presenting an award to a student. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]   The students presented a skit to call upon everyone to protect the environment. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew] width=

Deputy Representative of UNHCR, Ms Maja Lazic, presenting an award to a student. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
The students presented a skit to call upon everyone to protect the environment. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
Teacher Geraldine (right) treats the refugee students like her own children. She was glad to see them grow up day by day. [Photograph by Chew Chin Wah]   Teacher Shamsul Huda (right), who has served at the Unity School for six years, felt that refugee children deserve the right to basic education despite their status. [Photograph by Ng Min Hui]

Teacher Geraldine (right) treats the refugee students like her own children. She was glad to see them grow up day by day. [Photograph by Chew Chin Wah]
 
 
Teacher Shamsul Huda (right), who has served at the Unity School for six years, felt that refugee children deserve the right to basic education despite their status. [Photograph by Ng Min Hui]
 
Mohd Rafik, Henar Begum and Osama were all smiling and they were grateful to Tzu Chi volunteers, especial retired principal Lim Choy Kim, whom to them is like a fatherly figure. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]  

Mohd Rafik, Henar Begum and Osama were all smiling and they were grateful to Tzu Chi volunteers, especial retired principal Lim Choy Kim, whom to them is like a fatherly figure. [Photograph by Lee Mun Keat]