CENTHRA has always been attentive on the plight of the refugees and in ways that we are able, have extended all possible forms of assistance. This year, we hope to bring them something beyond humanitarian assistance.
We are rolling out a series of Community Leadership Empowerment Initiatives that are targeted to vulnerable groups including, but not limited to, the refugees and stateless, single mothers and at-risk youths.
The first group benefiting from this initiative is the Rohingya community leaders who will take part in experiential activities that helps them digest and retain the importance of solidarity and the significance of what “unity” means in a “community”.
As the fortunate citizens of Malaysia, we must reflect on the challenging circumstances of the Rohingya. The lines of their country were drawn not at all with them in mind, or what it would mean for them should it be done the way it had. From the time the lines were drawn on the map, it had put them in a vulnerable position where their very existence became a question that to a certain extent, they cease to exist as humans.
The idea for the Community Leadership Empowerment Initiative was born out of the realisation that a shift in mindset is needed in order for this group to change their fate. Having been refugees for the longest time, for some of them all of their lives—there are barriers to break within the recesses of their minds.
CENTHRA, working with Driven By Passion Coach Bigdaddy together brings a programme that helps them develop an understanding that for them to succeed, they will first need to have a winning mindset and work together to lead their community. It’s not each for his own.
It’s each for the community.
The mission of this programme is for them to focus and picture how they think their community should look like and empower them to make that change. They understand that at the end of the day, this is what they need to go back and build in their various capacities, be it a youth community leader, a teacher who develops his students, the head of a household, a father, a brother, a son.
It was encouraging to see how the participants took to the programme, each with a positive attitude, eagerness to learn, and a readiness to share back to their community. They are especially impressed to take part in a programme that didn’t require them to hold a pen or have a paper to scribble on. All it needed was active participation, hands-on learning, and the motivation to make a difference.
The activities of the programme not only taught them how to work together, but learning that for them to succeed at something, there has to be one voice to lead. Their takeaway from the programme was that, for that voice to lead effectively, it needs every member of the group to trust, listen and play their role responsibly.
When asked, all the participants shared that they want to build their communities—back in the Arakan State that they were forced to leave due to the oppression and violence that met with them there. It was never about taking root in Malaysia or any other country. As long as they have taken refuge in more than the 20 years in Malaysia, they have never wanted to make Malaysia as their final destination. That was never the point.
What Malaysians need to understand is the Rohingya or other refugees are not here to take over the places they already occupy in their respective societies. All they want is the space to exist before they can head back to their own country which they love, reestablish, and rebuild there.
For that to happen, Myanmar needs to comply by international laws to respect the presence of the Rohingya Arakan State and acknowledge their existence in the country, and learn to co-exist. This programme hopes to prepare and equip the Rohingya with the skills they will need when such a time arrives.
In the mean time, CENTHRA will continue fighting for the Rohingya until they get justice and achieve the peace that has ovelong escaped them. We hope this initiative will have an impact on each participant and make a difference not only in their lives, but bring a positive change to the communities in which they belong.