‘You can’t just sit there crying and say that ‘Oh I’m a refugee and I don’t get this, I don’t get that’. If you are not doing anything for yourself, then what happen to me’?

“5 years ago, I came from Pakistan as a refugee, and have been a refugee for 5 years. I knew that as a refugee, we are not welcomed, our rights are being denied, so I thought to myself that I want to help, I want to contribute, and so I decided to volunteer here at IDEAS Academy, a secondary learning centre for underprivileged children, including those who are refugees, stateless and undocumented

It was a very small team at that time, and the old principal, she’s from Australia, she was just sleeping on the dirty floor here, she also away from her home, the classroom was very small, when I saw this, I felt like I wanted to contribute, I wanted to be a part of it and I decided to volunteer here.

I remember last time we were not getting enough funds. It was a sad moment for me because we were only getting RM300 for the month, but we had students coming in – it was really depressing.

And do you know that children actually have their own depressing moments at home that we don’t know of too? Here, they get to learn, they get to play with each other, and they are happy and content. So when I see the happiness on their faces, and the things we’ve created here, that’s that happiest moment for me.

I believe that when you start to give out rights, you will get your rights. If you can’t even attend a charity, then what is it will come to you? If you do the same thing, it will come to you. So I thought, for their rights, and myself being a refugee, I want to help – that is my ambition here”.

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Samantha Siow
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on March 14th 2019)

‘Let’s take a flight that I’d never thought I’d be on’, that’s what I thought when I signed up for my working holiday in US…’

“My working holiday experience in US is the greatest adventure of my life so far.

There was this random night, I came across this ‘working holiday’ thing on the Internet and I was like ‘oh US?’, a country that has never be on my list and I just signed up for it because I want to experience the so called ‘US culture’. 

One of the US cultures I’ve experienced is that they are a proud nation to the extend that they think they are the best. 

I remember I went to US during Christmas, so my boss wanted me to help with the Christmas tree decoration and she asked me ‘do you celebrate Christmas in Malaysia? Have you ever seen evergreen?’ 

I know she wasn’t being mean but at the beginning, I felt like ‘oh she is looking down at us, she thinks that Malaysia is a very kampong place, very rural’. 

I was working as a housekeeper in a ski resort in Peru, Vermont and it was an unforgettable experience for me. It was very tough at the beginning because I overestimated myself, the physical work was beyond my limit – I’m small in size and not that strong. 

Also, during winter, the temperature reached -20°C, and I was under the weather for almost 2 months.

It was very tiring for me. My parents were forcing me to quit and come back to Malaysia. 

I felt like giving up but I didn’t want to, I had a feeling that I will look down at myself if I gave up. Now, I feel like it is an achievement, I learned a lot of things, not only about US but about myself.

I remember there was this old man, he was my co-worker as a mechanic in the resort. He told me one should always have a ‘student’ mentality: to always be willing to learn, regardless of what positions you hold, your age, your wealth – and that’s been the wisest thing that I have heard along the journey. 

Despite I can talk so much about travelling, I do feel lost and depress sometimes. It’s because I don’t have a job now, I don’t have an income and I still living on allowance. 

I tried very hard to get a job in UK after I finished my degree in Liverpool because I really love the city so much. 

It’s about the lifestyle and the people I met, all the experiences made me grow so much and so quick. In the end, I didn’t get any. 

I believe that good things take time and things happened for a reason. These simple quotes and beliefs hold me every time I’m on the edge of breaking down”. 

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Samantha Siow
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on October 27th 2018)

(1/2) “For me dance is my escape into a world filled with love, harmony, happiness and music…”

(1/2) “I am 56 years old and still teach dance to young girls who one day want to conquer the world and I hope that they will do exactly that.

By training I was a lawyer but after finishing my law degree I took off to London to study dance which was a very unusual move for women to undertake back in the early 1980s. I enrolled myself at Laine Theatre Arts and back then, I was the first Malaysian at Laine’s, something that I am proud of even today.

Being at Laine’s was a tough yet wonderful experience. Until then I wasn’t accustomed to dancing rigorously from 9am to 5pm. At Laine’s we did it everyday. 

We did it till our legs felt like jelly and our shins hurts to the point we couldn’t stand. On some days my body would seize up. I remember rolling onto one side and falling on the floor simply so that I could crawl up on all fours and get ready for yet another day of stretching and dance.

But three and half years at Laine’s prepared me for a whole new world of ballet and dance. 

Graduating and ready to take on the world, I returned to Malaysia and worked hard for many years. I started The Dance Company with a partner, and we braved the industry as young aspiring professionals. The company is still around, though I am no longer a part of it.

Once I had kids, it was difficult to balance the two. I wanted to raise my kids myself and to spend my formative years being around them, which was why I left the commercial industry and focused more on teaching, and I don’t regret my decision at all.”

Photo and story by Nafisa Dahodwala

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(This post was first published on March 28th 2018)

Why did you take up kungfu classes?

“I took up kungfu for self-defence. I’m too small and I was always bullied. Today, I can use kungfu to fight but I don’t want to. I will only use Wing Chun when I need to.”

“I want to have a good-looking body, with no fats.” – sworn brothers in kungfu.

Story by Christine Cheah 
Photo by Irene Yap

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(This post was first published on February 18th 2018)

Seen at KLCC Park.

(And if you were wondering…no, the trio did not plan beforehand of wearing yellow together – they just happened to be so!).

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on January 27th 2014)

“So are you guys part of a biking club?..”

Nah, we’re all just biking enthusiasts.
Where are you guys from?
Guy on the left: I stay here, but…
Guy on the right: I stay in the States. 
Wait, you guys are mountain bikers? 
Yeah! And there’s enough trails here to bike for 4-6 hours without using the same route.”

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on December 24th 2013)