The Rohingya people of Myanmar’s Rakhine State are in a no win situation. Scapegoated, ostracized, and denied citizenship, many decide to flee. Over the past decade, hundreds of such refugees ended up on Penang Island, in Malaysia.
It seemed every day there were new stories of injustice, of human trafficking, and of their perilous journeys. It made me wonder what I could do. Turns out, I was in a unique situation, as I happened to live on Penang Island myself. So, I contacted the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), and they suggested I teach English at Peace Learning Center, a refugee school near my home. It didn’t take long to realize the school was severely underfunded. One teacher received a paltry salary, there was no budget for supplies, and small private donations barely covered monthly rent for the building.
I could only be so effective teaching English to a class of ten kids aged 8-14. There were 50 students total at the school, from age four on up. I quickly discovered that the older students weren’t staying on, and the younger students weren’t getting enough individual instruction. We needed more teachers. But there was no money. I decided that maybe I could do something.
RREF is the charity I set up to raise funds to hire professional teachers. $10,000 funds one teacher’s salary for a year. We want to hire three full time teachers for 2017.
Ultimately, the goal is to provide a path to university to every refugee student who is willing to do the work. A secondary goal is to keep these kids in school, and away from traffickers. Each of these kids has the potential go out and be a positive force for change in the world. But they need teachers. A donation to RREF pays for their teachers.
RREF is recognized as a 501c3 charity by the IRS as of August 19, 2016. All donations are tax deductible for US taxpayers.
In the News: