Soyod* is a 55-year-old father who lives among the refugee community in Alor Setar, Kedah. His small family consists of 2 children and a wife. Soyod does not have any special skills. He can speak Malay but he cannot read. He has been working numerous jobs to feed his family from construction to currently part of a local cleaning company as a road sweeper. Soyod said because he did not have other skills, so he had to work all these jobs to support his family.
He came to Malaysia in the 1990s when he was in his early 30s with a payment of 500 MYR (125 USD) for a one-way journey into the borders. He fled from Rakhine state, Myanmar, and had spent 10 days in the crowded boat with other people. He remembered being forced to change to a smaller boat after certain days in the sea by smugglers. With other people, this small boat left to drift to the shores. Upon reaching the shorelines on the Malaysia border, Soyod was arrested by the local law enforcers and was detained for a few months.
He was forced to leave his village in Rakhine, Myanmar, because his life was at stake. The military attacked his village and burnt Soyod’s house. His family was killed in his house, and his only child was decapitated in front of him. He was the only survivor and he fled to Malaysia for safety and started a new family there.
When Malaysia was hit by the pandemic, Soyod lost his job. He was able to survive with the help of his friends. He stated that he has not received any form of aid since the first day he arrived. He heard about Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and New Thessalonian Apostolate (NTA)’s aid from his community. After a long wait for an assessment interview, he finally received the aid. “I’ve never received any aid before, this is the first time an organization offered me aid,” Soyod said. This assistance meant so much to him as He could manage to cover some of his necessities with the given amount. He believes that the aid is a big help in this difficult time.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.