Category: Blog


shoes-1260718_960_720Behind this wonderful initiative stand two friends, Lucile and Colleen, who decided to organise a walk on the 24th of September 2016 to show their support for an association. After researching and thinking for a while, they chose our association URBAN REFUGEES !

The big day has come ! For 7 hours, the 2 friends have walked 30km (about 19 miles) throughout London to support the cause of urban refugees, thus collecting the tidy sum of 550$ (as well as a few aches and blisters on the way !)
With the help of their relatives, who shared the link to the fundraising on social networks, they achieved to reach over their initial goal of 500$.

Thank you again for your support, Lucile and Colleen. Thanks to you URBAN REFUGEES has gained profile and has collected donations.
And BRAVO ! It was a great performance !

The fundraising page is still activated, you can still donate to support us : https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/london-30k-charity-walk-for-urban-refugees/x/11280252

Opportunities were once scarce for the Afghan Community Center (ACC), which serves the Afghan refugee community in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  But through their recent partnership with URBAN REFUGEES, that is beginning to change.

acc

Jessica Leber, staff editor and writer for Fast Company—a print and online magazine focusing on innovation and creative thought leaders who are shaping the future of business—interviewed Mahdi, one of the ACC’s founders and leaders.

The ACC was created and managed by Afghan refugees themselves to support fellow refugees in their own community, and this interview with Jennifer is a powerful opportunity for the group to amplify the visibility of refugees like themselves, largely forgotten within the humanitarian system. Mohammad Mahdi, or simply “Mahdi” as he is known among colleagues, explained described the difficult living conditions for Afghan refugees, and how the support of URBAN REFUGEES is changing their daily life for the better.  He also shared his own story, and how the trials of his life led him his role in the ACC.

Mahdi left Afghanistan with his family as a young boy, when remaining at home became unsafe. He lived in Iran as refugee for 20 years before deciding to immigrate to Malaysia, where he hoped to build a better life and experience less discrimination because of his refugee status. “In Kuala Lumpur, conditions are not ideal but not bad,” he said. “We are thankful to the Malaysian government because we live safely.”

Members of Malaysia’s own Afghan refugee community founded the ACC to make a meaningful difference for those who face these daily challenges. Mahdi remembered the creation of ACC in 2014. Before the group came together, the community had no place for meeting, organizing, and supporting one another.

But today, the ACC itself faces many challenges.  The most daunting obstacle is funding their budget.  “We are not professional in management, advertising,” said Mahdi.  Adding that it was for this reason—a lack of formal management training—that  URBAN REFUGEES is on the ground providing mentorship to the ACC.  “They give us the key of management, improve our abilities and helps us to propose more services,” he said.

These courses include offerings such as English courses, sports courses, health screening, information dissemination, and more for the community.  Language courses are of utmost importance.  “The first need is learning English because we need it daily to find a job, to get a house,” says Mahdi. The organization also struggles with staff and funding: “All of members are volunteers,” he said. “We have only one support is Nahel a Malay business man.”

Sonia Ben Ali, co-founder and executive director of URBAN REFUGEES explained to Jennifer that this collaboration with the ACC “is the first pilot of the organization which more than 50 refugee-led organizations applied for.”  These other refugee-led CBOs (community-based organizations) are on waiting list now, and URBAN REFUGEES hopes to provide additional support for these organizations and others after the completion of the pilot and as their own capacity grows.  “Refugee  organizations such as the Afghan Community Center play a fundamental role in the support system and should be recognized as much more credible actors,” added Sonia.   URBAN REFUGEES also participates in advocacy to promote sustainable solutions to the refugee crisis.

“We are delighted that the program is beginning to bear fruit, that the urban refugees are beginning to have a real attention and we are very grateful to our donors to support us and to make this possible,” said Sonia.  As the interview with Jennifer came to a close, Mahdi reinforced ACC’s primary goal: to create a system that would be self-sustaining, allowing refugees in the future to find their way without support from groups like his.

The final Fast Company article is here; it is part of a larger series on creating a refugee-friendly world, which you can check out here.

Since 2014, the Afghan Community Center (ACC) in Malaysia has served a critical need for the community by connecting people with affordable and safe housing, access to education and job opportunities, and, perhaps most importantly, fostering a sense of cultural unity and social support.

URBAN REFUGEES is working with the ACC leaders to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan refugee community in Malaysia to protect, help and advocate for their own community. You can meet the amazing ACC team below :

Mohammad MahdiMohammad Mahdi

Mohammad Mahdi was an active member of the Afghan refugee community in Iran before moving to Malaysia and joining the ACC leadership. The promotion of peace is Mohammad’s first goal for the organization, and he is working with URBAN REFUGEES so that the ACC can become “the links, the main hub, the focal point for support and information for Afghan refugees in Kuala Lumpur.”

Haji Mohammad Ali SharifiHaji Mohammad Ali Sharifi

Mr Haji is the senior leader at ACC. He is in charge of managing social issues within the community. Mr Haji used to be a chef in Kaboul. He understands all the importance of leading a community and enabling each member of the team to thrive. ‘We need to create a sense of community’, he says, for the Afghan refugees to thrive in Malaysia.

Khadija HossainiKhadija Hossaini

Children can be afraid of going to the dentist; however, Khadija Hosseini, a former dentist’s assistant, understands how to transform fear into action. Teaching English and art to women and youth in the community, Khadija hopes to “improve the next generation.” Working with URBAN REFUGEES, and with women in particular, has been especially significant for Khadija, giving her “the energy to continue.”

Nematullah AhmadiNematullah Ahmadi

After having served previously as a community leader in Malaysia, the Afghan community elected Nematullah Ahmadi in an effort to reinvigorate the ACC. “We have so many talents in our community,” Nematullah explains, “but no way to express them.” Working with URBAN REFUGEES, Nematullah is learning how the ACC can more effectively amplify the voices of community members.

Ali Akbar AhmadiAli Akbar Ahmadi

With a black belt rank in Taekwondo, Ali Akbar Ahmadi understands the importance of concentration and determination. After living in Malaysia for two years, he decided to give back by teaching taekwondo classes to young children in the community. “Afghan refugees need to be able to solve daily problems such as finding jobs” and accessing public information and facilities such as hospitals, Ali Akbar explains. Through Taekwondo, children in the community are learning the value of persistence.

Mohammad ZakaryaMohammad Zakarya

For Mohammad Zakarya, building and maintaining a community is all about mutual respect and cooperation. “ACC is a group of people that is not related to any political group, individual, religion, or special ethnicity,” he explains. Instead, Mohammad is proud that the Afghan refugee community in Malaysia is more concerned with helping one another succeed and thrive.

Nasrullah SharifiNasrullah Sharifi

Nasrullah Sharifi is deeply connected to the Afghan refugee community, Afghani culture and heritage. Building on his experience working with local government officials to mediate local conflicts, Nasrullah is eager to enhance his project management skills. “We need those [capacity-building] trainings,” he says, in order to truly meet the diverse and complex needs of community members.

Our team is committed to help the Afghan urban refugee population in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by training this amazing refugee leaders team so that they can improve their impact towards their community.

If you wish to support us, here is the way!

After fleeing years of violence and persecution, Afghan refugees are planting “seeds of peace,” and rebuilding their lives in Malaysia with the support of the Afghan Community Center (ACC).

Created in 2014, the ACC is led by eight community leaders and has grown to include over 140 families. Led by an elected Board of Directors, the ACC aims to foster lasting, positive change for the Afghan community in Malaysia by connecting people with affordable and safe housing, access to education and job opportunities, and, perhaps most importantly, fostering a sense of cultural unity and social support.

ACC leaders are focused on strengthening the capacity of the Afghan refugee community in Malaysia to protect, help and advocate for their own community.

Malaysia, like most other Southeast Asian countries, is not party to the UN Refugee Convention, which denies refugees official status in the country. Community-based organizations, including the ACC, play an integral role in providing security, a sense of community, and social services for refugees living in an unfamiliar land.

Despite these efforts, the Afghan community in Malaysia remains highly vulnerable and the ACC faces serious funding and capacity constraints.

The refugee journey is perilous, and the lives they make for themselves fragile. The ACC, and other community-based organizations serving refugees around the world, provide a foundation for refugees to be active agents in meeting their needs and aspirations.

If you are interested in learning more about the Afghan Community Center (ACC) in Malaysia, please contact URBAN REFUGEES at: contact[@]urban-refugees.org



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