Refuge for the Refugee

 

When making an impact for Christ to the community one must never think that age is ever problem. In this case one is never to young too change the community. Take the story of Heidy Quah, and Andrea Prisha, two best friends in secondary school, who at the age of 18, would start the Refuge for the Refugees (RFTR), or Persatuan Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Pelarian, an NGO with the noble goal of helping raise the standard of living for refugee kids, by providing them with sustainability education, and by raising awareness of their plight.

This may seem like a radically different way to spend time as a teenager who at such an age would be all about seeking fun and thrills. But as Heidy explained, they were passionate about living life to the fullest. However, their definition of living life to the fullest slightly differs from the world. It means putting their needs before themselves, touching such lives, and making a difference.

 

Heidy Quah
Andrea Prisha among the RFTR children, on the right.

 

This resonates with Christ’s own words;

 

Matthew 16:25
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

 

To make every day count, it has to be for others not just ourselves.

 

Description of the Refuge for the Refugees (RFTR)

 

 

The RFTR started from humble beginnings. It begun in June 2012, as a project with one goal in mind, which was to help a certain refugee school stay opened. The then 18 year old friends, Heidy and Andrea, were volunteers at the Chin Children’s Education Centre (CCEC).

Because neither the principal nor the pupils of could afford to sustain the school on a monthly basis, CCEC soon closed down when financial sustenance stopped. Therefore, to facilitate fund-raising and publicity for CCEC, it became practical to create a charity NGO. Hence, on 3 September 2012, Persatuan Kebajikan Perlindungan Kanak-Kanak Pelarian (Refuge for the Refugees) was born.

 

 

It was by no means an easy task as Heidy explains;
“We started by simply trying to raise funds, by going from house to house selling cookies, which was a lot of hard work. With zero experience in baking, we raised not more than Rm 100 support. Yet later on people started donating to the cause. This was proof of God’s divine provision for our cause,”

Despite the hardship that they had to go through in order to register the organization, it was through God’s miraculous grace that they were able to register Refugee for the Refugees as a government-recognized NGO.

Even so, it has been a very challenging journey for them. As an organization they needed money to raise funds. It was really hard, as they were still students. But time and time again God proved to be faithful, as He sent the right people to them.

There was one government officer in particular who had been a blessing, going beyond the call of duty to help them. Yet strangely after the registration process was completed, they were unable to contact her again; proof of God’s grace and divine appointment throughout the process.

Since then Refuge for the Refugees has kept on growing over the past five years.

 

 

Heidy herself has been Malaysia’s only representative for the British Commonwealth’s 2017 Queen’s Young Leader Award due to their work with the refugees. Yet Heidy sees the award as more as a form of credibility for the organisation itself, not the main purpose for the work itself, as entering it had never cross her mind.

As ‘Iron sharpens iron,” Refuge For The Refugees is not a sole effort. While Heidy is the vision caster, Andrea who is the detail-oriented one, plan out and execute each step along the way.

“It’s a combination of “brains and heart,” Heidy explains.

“We can’t do without each other. It’s been a good experienced working with each other. But we must always make sure it is centered back to Christ. So there is a lot of check and balances. Since this is an NGO, there has to be a lot of accountability and transparency,” Andrea shares.

 

 

“I too learned very important and value lessons along the way. I’ve always been caught up in the doing but not the why. But throughout the years I realised sometimes it’s the small things that bring glory to God in this work,” she adds.

“Really, over the years, God’s grace has been in our everyday lives; it became part of our experience. There was so much favour when it came to money. Finance just came when we needed it desperately. Sometimes it was from an unknown stranger, or a friend. Once a lady gave free tickets to the kids for an event. Everyday grace like this strengthens my faith, in the more you reap the more you sow,” Heidy shares.

“As we continue growing, we always need the extra hand in terms of volunteers. It is an opportunity to help kids who are trying to resettle to gain faith and confidence again. As for me I go beyond what teachers do, where I see them as friends and family.”

 

 

The RFTR are currently looking for volunteer teachers to teach Maths, Music, Art, English and Science teachers. For those keen in helping their cause or volunteering, do write to Refuge for the Refugees at refugefortherefugees@gmail.com, or visit their Facebook page.  There are eight schools in total located in KL, PJ, Penang Mainland, and Klang Valley.

 

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Chris Quah

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