One time I was snowboarding and I fell a few times in the snow. And when I was about to leave the chalet, I realised “where was my watch?.”

I have a story about this watch.

One time I was snowboarding and I fell a few times in the snow. And when I was about to leave the chalet, I realised “where was my watch?.” I had lost it and I freaked out. I was like oh my God, so I went up the hill again and couldn’t find it, went back down and asked the concierge, and they haven’t seen it either. So I was like, “you know what, I’ll just go to the police station and report that it has been lost.” At the police station I say, “M’aam, I want to report my missing watch, I’ve lost it.” She’s like “what color is it?” I said “silver, black face.” And she’s like, “oh, what’s the brand name?.” I said, “Breitling.” She said, “oh, okay, is this your watch?”

I was like oh my God, I can’t believe somebody found it and returned it. I was so happy. And if you picked this up, you’d know it was expensive – its heavy, its got weight, and it goes for USD 10,000 a watch. So I was very happy about that. Apparently, an employee from the chalet found it in the eating area, in the cafeteria. So I guess maybe when I feel down it must have loosened the buckle, then when I was taking off my jacket and gloves it must have fallen off.

I asked if I could meet the employee, but they don’t remember who the person was. I’m extremely thankful for the person, and I would have given him a reward – at least buy him lunch! It’s nice to know there are still these kind of people in this world.

“I’m from Sarawak, and my family are all of different religions, due to intermarriage of the different races.”

“I’m from Sarawak, and my family are all of different religions, due to intermarriage of the different races. During Christmas, we would go and pay a visit to their homes and vice versa – where they would visit our homes and celebrate. Christians and Muslims in Sarawak both celebrate each other’s festive season. There’s no problem. Mixed marriages is quite normal so we don’t see why we can’t celebrate one another’s important festival.”

“What’s the hardest part of being a promotions girl?”

What’s the hardest part of being a promotions girl?

“Standing long hours is the hardest part – and when we have icky clients. There’s actually a lot of politics, a lot of gossip that goes on between us. Actually, that’s common in every place.”

What do icky clients do?

“It’s especially when clients want to take photos with you, sometimes they hug you. And you don’t want to say no because it comes off as rude? And you can’t be rude because you’re representing the company. This is a real issue that happens everywhere as well.”

“In Pudu jail. It was 1973, when I was 19 years old. I was doing drugs back then and I regretted it”

“Where did you get those tattoos from?”

“In Pudu jail. It was 1973, when I was 19 years old. I was doing drugs back then and I regretted it – I was young and didn’t know any better. I was there for two years and life after has been difficult. I don’t miss Pudu at all. After I got out, I had a job as a painter but that did not last. You see this (medicine) pills here? I have been taking them for 40 years already, to keep my health stable. And they’re very expensive! Until now I am unmarried, without a job, and the police here are charging me RM 100 to get a new IC over my broken one, can you believe that? In any case, I tell you, do not do drugs. That one mistake has affected my entire life. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Once you try…. you’re gone.”

“I love vintage stuffs. I’m just pretentious.”

Girl: “When I was young, my grandmother used to play songs on her gramophone and I’ve been wanting one ever since. I just bought these LP records and have my own turntable (modern LP player). It’s a way for me to be nostalgic about the past, and to remember my grandmother and the olden times. And there is actually a difference when you play songs on the LP – it actually sounds better.”

Guy: “I love vintage stuffs. I’m just pretentious.”

“What was your most challenging experience so far as a firefighter?”

What was your most challenging experience so far as a firefighter?

(On the right)
“It was during Ramadan so we were fasting, and didn’t have the usual stamina to fight the fire but had to summon all our energy as people were crying and telling of how their books are gone, their homes, how the victims are wondering what’ll they do for upcoming Raya. We have to stay strong, because these people just lost everything in a blink of an eye. Yes we are firefighters, but we are also women.”
“It was also a squatter settlement and those structures can be fire hazards and the cramped illegally constructed buildings allow the fire to spread quickly”.
“Also, we undergo the same specialized training as men. We even wear the same uniform, so its a bit of a problem. The equipment come from the United States, so its all big. The coat, the boots…and I remember falling down once!”

(On the left)
“It was a 6-hour fight with a fire in a clubhouse, where everything was closed, no doors, so the condition is right for the fire to spread easily because there’s no air going inside.
“So we were trying to figure out how can we find a way to bring in some air to help kill the fire. In the end, we had to force open the roof using the TTL (the big fire truck with the crane-like ladder extension) and used the chainsaw to open up the roof. We didn’t eat, drink, and was just at it for 6 hours starting from 6am till 1pm.
“It started from the kitchen when they were cooking water and then it exploded. Someone probably forgot they left it there, and it was just small fire. but because there was no big gusts of wind or air, it became bigger and bigger. Thank god there wasn’t many people in it.”
“Being a firefighter is very adventurous, and there many challenges. We were afraid at first but after training it becomes automatic and we aren’t afraid anymore.”

“I just want him to be healthy, to be happy. It’s what every mother wants. He has to be smart.”

“I just want him to be healthy, to be happy. It’s what every mother wants. He has to be smart.” The mother adds cheekily, “I also want him to take up sports, swimming specifically to get the six-pack.”

“How does your life change when you become a mom?”

“Freedom. My friends call me up for a cup of coffee and I can’t go out because there’s no one to take care of him. I’ve also had this dream of traveling. With a son, it’s difficult because you can’t go out during the night often. He struggles to stay awake and walk with us.”

“I am a Yemeni, a doctor, and a refugee.”

“I am a Yemeni, a doctor, and a refugee.

I did my MBBS in India and graduated in 2009. Then I went back to Yemen with full of excitement because I was finally a doctor and I thought I was going to help people. In 2013, I began to renovate my clinic in Yemen, which took almost a year to complete. But the war broke out in 2015.

It was a civil war because there were some rising revolutions. In 2011, the president handed over the whole government and the country to the people who led the revolution. It took both the old and the new government almost two years to consolidate, but it wasn’t successful. In 2014, there were wars from one area to another caused by Houthi, a group of radical Muslims.

All of this led to my move to Malaysia in 2017. I was very excited and happy at first, and I even bought new clothes because it was my first time coming here. But once I arrived at the airport, the immigration officers asked me a lot of questions, like a small investigation. But I understood that there was a war back in my country and they were just doing their job.

I started to work as soon as after I got here, but I faced a lot of difficulties because I’m a refugee and I don’t have any proper documentation on my stay. There was this one company where the boss who interviewed me explained about salaries, vacancy, and so many other things. And after that, he asked about my nationality. I told him that I’m a Yemeni and right after that, he apologised, as he thought I was from Sabah or Sarawak. I didn’t get the job.

I have friends with a university degree and even a PhD, and yet they are working at a restaurant. My excitement went down after that.

Right now, I’m teaching at Fugee school and I’ve never been this happy. I feel like I’m contributing to the kids’ future. Besides teaching them English and Science, I also teach them how to manage their feelings, how to focus on themselves, and how to even focus on the given opportunities they have in their hands now.

I remember the first time I met these students, there was so much resistance from them and they weren’t listening. They even said, “our English is better than yours. We speak better than you.”

But English is not about speaking. It’s about grammar and exams. It was very difficult for me but I took the challenge and did my best to overcome it. Sometime later, I heard a few students calling me ‘big brother’ and I was really touched by it because I wasn’t expecting that.

Nowadays, there is so much information from the media which is against us, the refugees. It caused the public’s negative attitude towards us. I think the media should start raising awareness on these issues. Like, who are refugees and what do the refugees want because most of the refugees are escaping from wars. The organisations can also involve the refugees in their campaigns because a lot of us would like to contribute as well. For us, as a refugee, we have to behave nicely, respect the laws of the country, and understand and speak the language.

I miss my home because home is what I made to be mine. I miss it when my mother and siblings hang out and eat together at home. I always believe that life is perfect for everyone. It’s just that all of us have a situation that we need to deal with.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Samantha Siow and Mushamir Mustafa
Assistance by Victor Raj
Edited by Sydrah M

“I’ve been living in Malaysia since 2013. It was just my mother and me, and we came over by boat and on foot. It took us almost a week to reach this country.”

“I’ve been living in Malaysia since 2013. It was just my mother and me, and we came over by boat and on foot. It took us almost a week to reach this country.

School is a lot harder here than it was in Myanmar. It’s different and challenging. But I just work hard. Back in Myanmar, we used to play this 5 rocks game called lungbum.

I play a hawker called Chooi in this coming Hands of Hope musical show. She’s the one who sells food and always scolds people. I just act like I’m angry all the time. I practice twice a week after school.

I want to be an eye doctor when I grow up because when I was younger, I went through an eye operation (in Malaysia), so I don’t want other people to go through it.

The one thing I miss the most about Myanmar is my grandparents because I haven’t seen them for a long time.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Samantha Siow and Aiman Mustafa
Edited by Sydrah M

*Hands of Hope Charity Musical Theatre 2019 aims to raise awareness about the humanitarian issues happening in Malaysia. This musical theatre shares the journey of two refugee brothers from Chin to Malaysia and also the struggles that they face when they are in Malaysia. For more information, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/2432726603440770/