DoubleTree Hilton hosts Rohingya children

Thirty children from Project ABC, a Soroptimist International Johor Baru’s (SIJB) learning centre for Rohingya children, students from Project ABC, broke fast as guests of DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru, recently.

DoubleTree by Hilton General Manager, Simon McGrath
[Left] presenting duit raya to the Rohingya children
Accompanied by SIJB President, Nooraini Mohd Yasin and SIJB Immediate Past President, Soraya Alkaff-Gilmour, the children spent time getting acquainted with the hotel staff before the breaking-of-fast meal.

The learning centres Project ABC I & II in Kota Tinggi and Kulaijaya were established by SIJB in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help Rohingya refuges children obtain a basic education.

Since it started with just 25 students in 2007, the learning centres now have a total of 250 students between the ages of 5 to 17.  The success of these two learning centres has resulted with the third centre being opened in Tampoi, Johor Baru. 

SIJB President, Nooraini Mohd Yasin [2nd from Left], SIJB
Immediate Past President, Soraya Alkaff-Gilmour [Left],
international intern Alistair Duncan [Back Row 3rd
from Left] with DoubleTree Hilton staff and their guests
One of the two teachers in the Tampoi learning centre is Siti Zubaidah Yasin, a Rohingya graduate from the Kota Tinggi centre who successfully completed her diploma from Dignity Foundation under UNHCR.  

The teaching team is currently being assisted by an international intern, Alistair Duncan, a lawyer from the UK working in Singapore, who took 5 months to volunteers with SIJB before returning to the UK to do his Masters.

“Besides receiving an education, the students are provided with uniforms, shoes and books,” said Alkaff-Gilmour, who is also the Project Coordinator and Liaison Officer with UNHCR.  By interacting with them in English, she is proud that the children have acquired a great deal of confidence to speak in English.

DoubleTree Hilton staff making their guests feel welcome
“Our scope is not only education but also in giving them skills development including literacy classes, sewing and cooking classes for single mothers,” said Alkaff-Gilmour.  She said youths aged between 16 and 22 will join SIJB’s Skills Development Programme to equip them with living skills and become financially independent.

“It’s our pleasure to see the smiling faces of the children and know that this small gesture has made the less fortunate happy at this special time of year,” said DoubleTree by Hilton JB, General Manager, Simon McGrath as he mingled with the guests who were enjoying a sumptuous spread of more than 80 authentic local and traditional delights served from live cooking stalls in the Festive Flavours buffet spread in Makan Kitchen.

SIJB welcomes sponsors to support their effort with Project ABC as the learning centre operations depend on public funds.  Sponsors should email to:

A version of this was published in The Malaysian Insider on 10 July 2015

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