Deborah Henry first learnt about the condition of refugees in Malaysia, when she hosted an inhouse documentary about refugees for UNHCR in 2008. She met a Somali refugee family of 4 children aged 10-14 who weren’t in school- couldn’t speak, read or write English and were living in very difficult conditions. She left their small home feeling devastated, something had to be done! Soon after, Shikeen Halibullah and Deborah started giving the 4 children Math and English tuition, word spread and within a few months other families wanted their kids to be taught too. In early 2009, Shikeen and Deborah met Shafie Sharif, a Somali community leader who was offering the refugees private tuition classes, however most couldn’t afford the fees. So, in May 2009, Shikeen and Deborah led the establishment of Fugee School by joining forces with Shafie, to transform his initiative into one that educates over 100 refugee children.
Today, Fugee School works very closely with the Somali community in providing 130 students with an education