SiSu (Finnish Association in Singapore) organized a trip to Malaysia where unnecessary clothes, toys and other items got a new home in two donation destinations: an orphanage situated in Johor Bahru and a Rohingya Muslim refugee camp, maintained by the UN.
Madrasah Titan Murni Nurr is a privately-run orphanage of about 30 children located in Johor Bahru. The orphanage is supported mainly by donations from private individuals, but its activities are also supported by the Malaysian state.
"Before giving the toys for the children, we were acquainted with the facilities of the orphanage and its operations. When we arrived at the orphanage, we were greeted by happy and healthy looking children who came gracefully to meet us," reflects Anissa Margono.
Anissa is an active SiSu member and stands behind this initiative. SiSu has organized these kinds of trips to Malaysia since February 2017.
Once the first donations were delivered to the orphanage, it was time to head towards the refugee camp. There are about 100,000 Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia illegally. Of these, approximately 400 live at the camp where SiSu took most of the collection of the donations.
"There an entirely different world opened up in front of us – the kind of poverty, which is difficult to believe to be only 50 kilometers away from our home in Singapore," tells Anissa.
The Rohingyas living at the camp are an ethnic group mainly from the Rakhin state in Myanmar opposite the border of Bangladesh.
A majority of Rohingyas are Muslims, while the majority of the population in Myanmar is Buddhists. Due to the violence, many Rohingyas are currently living outside of Myanmar as refugees or illegal immigrants.
According to Anissa, the reception at the camp was immensely warm.
"It was not long before the donations found their new happy owners. It was especially touching to see the children’s joy at the sight of their new toys."
The area and the buildings where the camp is located, are owned by a wealthy Malaysian. He has offered it for the use of refugees. The majority of the possessions of the refugees living in the camp have also come through donations.
The homes that SiSu members visited were barely furnished. The residents of the camp seemed to spend a lot of their time in the mosque, which at the same time served as their school building and as a multi-purpose space.
"After talking with the camp residents and strolling around a few homes it became apparent that there really is a need for everything, because they live very modestly and ascetically, and do not own much of anything," states Anissa.
Therefore SiSu intends to continue this charity mission in the future.