AT TAYLOR'S: Lisa Lim (SueLyn.Lim@taylors.edu.my)
PROJECT PARTNER: UNHCR Malaysia (mlslu@unhcr.org)
Borderless is a community outreach project initiated by seven students from the Taylor’s Talent Management Programme. The aim of the project is to raise awareness about the refugee situation in Malaysia. A refugee is defined as an individual who is forced to leave their home country due to war, economic deprivation, persecution for their faith or ethnicity, or other violations of their human rights. According to United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees Malaysia (UNHCR Malaysia), there are approximately 150,000 refugees registered in Malaysia at the end of 2014. However, Malaysia is not party to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, and lacks a legislative and administrative framework to address refugee matters. This leaves refugees with limited choices as they are not able to work legally and cannot attend formal education or receive medical attention when they are ill.

Refugees in Malaysia are often misunderstood and mistaken as illegal immigrants. This is one of the main reasons why Borderless was formed. Borderless believes in equal basic human rights for everyone, despite their different background, gender, race, religion and circumstances. This project serves as a bridge between Malaysians and refugees to create a better understanding about their situation and to instill a community service attitude among youth in giving back to the community.
At Taylor’s University this project started at the beginning of April 2015, with a nine day awareness campaign in front of the Student Life Centre (SLC) with a booth to inform students about refugees in Malaysia. For the first week, the main attraction at the booth was a soft board with rectangular cards pinned up on it and students or staff who stopped by to support the cause is allowed to flip a card each. At the end of the week, the cards revealed an image of Prof. Albert Einstein, who was once a refugee as well during the World War II. The following week students collected ‘Sugar Cubes’ from participants which was basically sweet, encouraging messages for the refugee kids, to give them a little bit of hope. For the final week of the awareness campaign, Borderless set up a mystery box as a teaser game for their main event, Into the Unknown.

Into the Unknown, the grand finale event, was held for three days from the 27th April until 29th April in the SLC and it has received overwhelming support from Taylorians. This event was designed as a maze with three stages; war, discrimination and loss. Students and staff were given the opportunity to experience a simulation of a refugee’s journey through this maze. Throughout the three stages, visitors managed to experience the life of a refugee, learnt the injustice discrimination faced by them and be reminded that refugees are often separated from their families by circumstances and have to rely on their own instincts to survive. At the end of the third stage, an online survey was conducted to rate their experience to gauge their level of awareness about the situation of refugees. Into the Unknown has received over 326 participants over the three days and 98 percent of them responded positively regarding being more informed about refugees after the event.  

Throughout the nine day event, Borderless manages to sell 200 customized button badges and 100 T-shirts. Besides the merchandise, donations were also collected as a support for this cause. This has brought in nearly RM4,000 with all proceeds going to UNHCR Malaysia to support refugees in Malaysia. Borderless managed to contribute a small part in making a positive stand for the refugees’ community in Malaysia and they hope that Taylorians have gained an overall positive learning experience from the entire campaign and pass on this torch of knowledge to their friends and family.
For more information and further inquiries on this important project, you can visit Borderless at their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/borderlesstu or Instagram https://instagram.com/borderlesstu/

Written by Choe Le Ann