Tan Szee Ling, Volunteer


“I have been engaging with refugees since August 2013.

I am a volunteer teacher for English. Primarily, I interact with kids aged 5-10. At first, it was tough as this is my first volunteering job. I couldn’t communicate with the kids because English is not their native language. It was much better after I attended the training session provided by UNHCR. All the kids are so pure and kind. Their hunger to learn surprised me.

I did not realize there are refugee communities in Malaysia until I looked for a volunteering job. By understanding what happened to their families and how they were forced to flee from their home country, I strongly felt that we should lend a hand whenever we can.

There was once I saw some refugees walking on the street when I drove home from the refugee school. I gave them a ride to the nearest bus station. During the time, the refugees shared with me their stories and how they make ends meet in Malaysia. It got me thinking if, maybe, my ancestors were refugees to as they fled the Japanese in China. I feel really lucky to be a Malaysia citizen. I am from a poor family and I believe education can bring hope and eventually, change the destiny of a family. I will continue to be a volunteer teacher whenever I can.

There is one kid with poliomyelitis in my class. Despite his physical imperfection, he attends my class every Sat. He is good in drawing and he always shows me his work. The drawings are masterpieces in my eyes. There was one time I absent for two weeks. The first sentence the kid spoke to me was: “I’m very happy to see you teacher!” And from that moment, I told myself I must give my best in teaching them.”


Name: Tan Szee Ling

Nationality: Malaysian

1 family torn apart by war is too many

Learn more about our work with refugees at UNHCR.org