First established as SKEF (Somalia Kids Education Fund) in mid 2008, co-founders Deborah Henry
and Shikeen Halibullah began by providing weekly English and Mathematics tuition to a small group of Somali refugee children. In May 2009, they met Shafie Mohamed, who had been running a centre (Save Education Centre) that taught English, Mathematics and Somali to a few individuals within the refugee community with the ability to pay RM80 per month. Deciding to come together and combine their operations, Fugee School
was born and has since grown into an education hub with 120 students from 4 to 18 years of age who study life-changing subjects for free - from Mathematics to Art and Sustainable Development.
The school aims to see that “all refugees and in particular refugee children are treated and accepted in society the same way as other children are - by providing them with the ability to read, to write and to express themselves accordingly in their environment,” according to principal Shafie Mohamed. He adds “we want to empower the minds of refugee children with education which will one day allow them to make decisions for themselves and have the right to a bright future - a privilege all children should have.”
Deborah Henry, a former Miss Malaysia who has used her position to advance the cause of the underprivileged, speaks to the dislocation these children face, “Imagine if you are suddenly told that you have to leave Malaysia tomorrow with only the clothes on your back – leaving everything you own and everyone you love. That is what refugees experience when they flee their home countries.” Ms. Henry also speaks to the benefits these children receive, "we not only provide education, we empower all students with life skills for the real world." In addition to her efforts with the Somali Fugee School, Ms. Henry is actively engaged in other efforts to help refugees, such as emceeing a cultural show by refugee children at a recent World Refugee Day.
The Canadian Pre-University Program has been assisting the school almost from its inception. Sandra Hacker was for many years the teacher most responsible for this interest. Along with Sandra Palmer and others, Ms Hacker involved the students of the CPU program in after school tuition for these needy students in math, science and English, often travelling for two hours through heavy after-school traffic to get to the school and back from their campus in Subang Jaya. Colin Boucher, who took over from Ms Hacker after the latter recently relocated to Hong Kong with her husband, has continued the involvement of the CPU program with the Somali Fugee School. “It teaches our students the importance of education as they see what these refugees are willing to go through to get an education,“ he says.
Interested students at Taylor’s College Subang Jaya campus are welcome to contact Mr Boucher if they would like to contribute their efforts to this worthy cause. “You don’t have to be a part of our program to be a part of this community outreach,” according to Mr Boucher. Interested staff and students can visit the Somali Fugee School website to obtain more information at http://www.fugeeschool.com/home or contact Colin Boucher at ColinJames.Boucher@taylors.edu.my