IN MALAYSIA, many of us take going to school for granted.
But, for about 100 students of the Achievers Academy in Ampang, going to school each day is a blessing as they struggle to keep its doors open.
In a single-storey community hall in Bandar Baru Ampang, the sparsely furnished school for refugees, formerly known as Pandawas Academy, is on the verge of closing down as it has been without a sustainable sponsor since January this year.
The Achievers Academy in Bandar Baru Ampang currently has several volunteers to teach the students in the mornings. — Photos: SHAARI CHEMAT
Achievers Academy principal Jeanette Chan said the children would have nowhere to go for an education should the learning centre be shut down.
“We can maybe place about 30 students in other refugee learning centres, but the rest will be forced to stay at home as they cannot go to a national school.
“Many of the families live around here as it is walking distance to the school,” she said.
She added that the students consist of refugees mainly from Afghanistan and a small percentage from Pakistan, aged seven to 19 years old.
“They are the victims of war and living in limbo, and their parents are not allowed to work while they are waiting to be relocated to another country.
“They are so eager to learn, but unless we get help, we will not have enough resources to keep it open,” she said.
According to Chan, the centre needs a minimum of RM9,000 a month to be sustainable.
At the moment, only football coach Tony Avbiorokoma teaches the students extracurricular activity.
This includes expenses for utility bills, rental and staff salaries.
“The students pay about RM25 to RM30 a month, but this is not sufficient.
“It has come to a point where each month we have to fight to get the necessary funds and manpower to keep running.
“Most of the fundraising is done via word of mouth, but it is only a trickle and not sustainable,” she explained.
In an effort to increase awareness and funds, a book project by Stories From and three refugee learning centres in Kuala Lumpur was published.
The book titled Dawn of a New Sky contains stories told from refugees living in Malaysia, including the students of Achievers Academy.
Half of the proceeds from the book will be channelled back to the community.
Aside from funding, the Achievers Academy also needs volunteers who can teach the students English, mathematics, science, biology, chemistry and physics as well as extracurricular activities such as badminton, basketball, table tennis, squash, arts, dance and music.
Currently, there is only a football coach who comes in the evenings to coach them.
“As there is not enough teachers, we can only afford to teach the students for four hours in the mornings.
“The students do not have anyone to teach them in the afternoons.
“Even then, they prefer to stay here as there is nothing else for them to do at home,” Chan said, adding she taught several classes.
“They are all so eager to learn and are very interactive in class. It will be heartbreaking if we have to close,” she said.
Those interested to help out can email email@example.com, or call Chan (016-278 9393) or Anne (013-202 8748). For details on the book project, visit http://storiesfrom.io