Sports Day for Chin Refugee Children Held in Malaysia
22 August 2011: The 5th Annual Sports Day, organised by the Chin Student Organisation (CSO), drew about 500 people including more than 400 Chin refugee students and 32 school teachers at the Australian International School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last Saturday.
The much-awaited event, attended by both the students aged between 6 and 17, and their parents as well as other guests based in Malaysia, opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by CSO Chairman Roger Khua Hup and Principal of the Australian International School Malaysia (AISM) Mr. David Kilpatrick.
A group of more than 400 Chin refugee children sang a powerful Chin patriotic song called ‘A Hme Ram Laitlang (Beautiful Chin Hills)’, with all the attendees standing in silence and awe.
“It was a great day. Both the students and their parents enjoyed the event. We also had a great support from friends from the international communities and local Malaysians,” one of the CSO teachers, Biak Hmun Lian, told Chinland Guardian.
“Most of us, the teachers, nearly melted into tears when the children sang the Chin song. Seeing the innocent children, who do not seem to realise why they are here in Malaysia, enjoy the singing and activities made us both happy and tearful,” added the editor of Seihnam Newsletter, published weekly in Hakha-Chin dialect by CSO.
The programmes also involved Chin traditional dances performed by Grade II and III students aged between 12 and 15, and other sports activities including football, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, 100 and 200 metres sprints, and other games for younger children.
In the evening session, the winning teams and individuals were presented prizes, which was followed by a ceremony of giving achievement awards of the first, second and third prizes to outstanding students in the mid-year examination.
Roger Khua Hup, CSO Chairman, said: “We cannot express our thanks and gratitude in words to our friends, families, individuals and staff members for the enormous support and contribution not only for the sports day but for other activities. In particular, we would like to extend our thanks to the AISM for allowing us to use the school.”
The AISM Principal was quoted as saying that he was happy to have participated in the event till the end and the AISM school is open to any activities for Chin refugee children.
One of the AISM teachers said: “We are grateful and much encouraged when we see all the activities and works done for the children. And we have great respect to you for your collaboration and unity throughout the programmes.”
The Chin Student Organisation (CSO), a community-based group formed in March 2005 by a group of Chin university students to provide informal educational services to Chin refugee children stranded in Malaysia, currently runs six learning centres with 450 to 500 student every year.
According to an estimate by the UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur, there are around 5,000 refugee children in Malaysia, of which about half are of Chin ethnicity from Burma, a country ruled by successive military regimes since 1962. .
Van Biak Thang