Weekend Getaway: Broga Hill, Semenyih, 7 & 8 September 2013

People get a little confused when we mention that SUKA Society was recently involved in organizing a refugee / Malaysian camp. No, we did not start a detention facility. Rather, a few of us got together with a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers to organize a fun weekend away for both refugee and Malaysian teenagers.

The goal was simple:

Firstly, get both groups of teenagers to have fun. And that they did. From zipping down a harrowing flying fox line to jumping through an intricate obstacle course, the campers tested their courage and built a little bit more confidence. Those who were a little more energetic woke up early in the morning to hike up Broga Hill. It was not exactly the highest hill around, but at 5.30am, every incline felt like that on Mount Everest.

Secondly, get both groups of teenagers to get to know each other. We introduced to the Malaysian teens to the difficult life of a refugee and some of the challenges they regularly face, such as arrest and detention. The refugee teens helped all of us appreciate their living conditions a little better when they shared about their personal experiences as refugees. It was deeply moving to listen to their stories and to see their maturity in coping with their difficult circumstances.

Thirdly, encourage both groups of teenagers to work hand-in-hand to prevent children from being placed in immigration detention centres. Children are extremely vulnerable in detention conditions. Detention leaves a traumatic psychological scar in their lives and destroys their confidence in humanity, and worse their sense of self-worth. It is not about how good or bad detention conditions are; children are just not meant to be placed in immigration detention. It is therefore imperative that we put a stop to the practice of placing children in detention centres.

To help the campers express themselves, we conducted three different workshops during the weekend getaway: a skit workshop, an interview workshop and a video workshop. In the skit workshop, the campers practised a skit that is based on experiences of children affected by detention. The video and interview workshops had the campers interview one another on camera concerning their thoughts on freedom.

Keep the 4th of October 2013 free. The End Children in Detention organizers will show the video of the interviews taken at the camp and present the campers’ skit at a public event to be held at Publika, Mont Kiara from 6.00PM to 8.00PM.