It was in 2008 when I met some refugee families living in Malaysia. I was hosting a documentary for UNHCR and sat in a family’s house to listen to their story. It was a human connection with the grandmother and her 4 siblings. I left that day determined to ensure that these children have access to education and a better future.
In Malaysia, more than 180,000 refugees cannot work legally, access public education services and have limited access to health care. Our non-profit organization Fugee.org aims to cultivate an environment where refugees can build more dignified and meaningful lives despite limitations and hardships.
Fugee.org believes in a shared humanity, where social inclusion is about dignity and choice, not charity and dependency. We stand for equitable outcomes by and with refugees, and our three pillars are education, enterprise and empowerment. Over the past 10 years, we have educated over 500 children and youth and worked with thousands of families and community members.
Our social enterprise, Fugeelah, intends to use its business and brand to raise awareness of the plight of refugee children and youth in transit through Malaysia, to inspire individuals to take action in any way possible, and ultimately to put implement the change.
Fundraising for refugee causes in Malaysia is quite difficult. I knew the odds were stacked against me and that I had to push the envelope and find a more creative solution if I wanted to create real change. So in 2014, I started thinking about starting a sustainable business for Fugee School. I wanted to be able to secure the school’s finances so that we could focus our time on improving our education programs and developing more innovative approaches.
I have a background in fashion, so it felt natural to start a social business selling accessories. We wanted the young refugees to be involved and we thought the jewelry was a good starting point.
Over the years, Fugeelah has grown into a conscious jewelry brand run by women and deeply committed to quality, both in the jewelry we make and in the lives we aim to encourage. We’re dedicated to thoughtful sourcing, fair wages, and return initiatives that really make an impact. In doing so, we educate, employ and empower refugee children and youth so they can approach life with dignity, determination and pride.
At Fugeelah, wewe always challenge ourselves to innovate, whether in to celebrateing imperfections, banish the stigma or strive be real and relevant. Oand always asking ourselves “Where Next”, looking for new paths to forge and getting out of our comfort zone. The past few years have become a time of diversification and so, in addition to creating the everyday treasured pieces, we also collaborate with Malaysian designers to bring you products with a purpose – we bring the change we want to see in the world, you should too.
A combination of reFugee and “lah”a term Malaysians love it. Our conversation starters elicit compliments and raise awareness of refugee rights. Your purchase has a big impact! We allocate proceeds to maintain income and development opportunities for young refugees, and to provide access to education for over 200 refugee children at our NGO, Fugee School.