By a Level 8 (English) Student, EELC
The persecution against my community, a particular sect of Islam that my family belongs to, made my parents and family ﬂee my beloved country Pakistan to take refuge in Malaysia. The constitution of Pakistan declared us as non-Muslims.
We are banned from practising our religion. We will be punished if we are found praying even in our homes. The other religious sects have announced that killing us is a good deed. They have bombed the mosques as well as killed our people continually by shooting at them.
Back in Pakistan, my father had a shop selling cosmetics and toys. As the only believer of our religion in that market, the neighbouring shop owners used to persecute him by asking people not to talk to him and telling customers not to buy things from him. Under further threats of attack, my uncle and father had to sell the shop.
Our neighbours would throw rubbish and stones at us or disturb us when we, the children were playing in the streets. People from a mosque of another sect located just at the corner of our street, had someone mark our house with a black cross.
Once my sister was cycling when some boys living nearby drove their motorcycles at full speed and hit her. Her hands were so seriously injured that the bones of her fingers were exposed. I personally was persecuted by school teachers. They used to deduct marks from my test papers without any reason and pass sarcastic remarks about my religion. Such persecutions are normal.
Due to these circumstances we had to migrate. So in October 2013 we came to Malaysia. Even though we faced difficulties in the beginning because we were illegal migrants, by the grace of God we have now obtained the UNHCR card.
My siblings and I were also able to continue our schooling in ElShaddai Refugee Learning Centre. I didn’t want to go to the school as it does not have the upper level that suits my age, but my mother forced me to. It was a good decision as the teachers and school environment helped me speak better English. Now I’m studying for my O-Level Exam at ElShaddai E-Learning Centre that has offered me a scholarship. Due to my circumstances I’m still at secondary level when I should be in university in Pakistan. Like me, many of my friends had their studies disrupted.
Health issues are some of the challenges that most of us refugees are facing. My mother has kidney problems and is anaemic. She is often in pain. The UNHCR free clinic only treats minor health issues. If anyone is required to undergo more tests, the clinic will recommend the hospital but often the medical fees are quite high. My father has high blood pressure and he can’t afford proper treatment.
Financial problem is also part and parcel of life here. Being refugees, we are not allowed to work. When we do get work, we are often treated badly. More tasks are given to us and sometimes we are not paid our salaries.
In 2015 I worked for a month in a printing company together with my mother. The employer insulted us and gave us some difficult tasks meant to be done by men. We were the only two female workers they asked to do that task. When we decided to leave, the employer paid us less than the salaries due to us.
“We look forward to…living normal lives.”
When certain people in this country find out our religious background, we risk being attacked and killed. In the apartment block where we live, some residents from Pakistan who are not of the same religion as us, asked some security guards to harass us. The guards would beat us and demand money from us. They would not allow the taxis that we travel in to drive in and would force us to get off the taxi outside the gate. We would have to lug our heavy stuff all the way to the lift. They beat us with chains, sticks and iron rods and often caused bleeding. If they find any children playing in the playground, they would beat them up.
It’s been almost 4 years since we came to Malaysia. The process of resettlement has been slow. Every day we pray we can be resettled as soon as possible. We look forward to living in a country that is peaceful and allows us to live normal lives with opportunities to work, to have education and the freedom to practise our religion.