“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