Empowering Rohingya Women Through English Language Learning

I am Tasmida from Buthidaung, Myanmar. I am a woman representative of the RSM (Rohingya Society Malaysia) office.

When I first arrived in Malaysia, I did not know how to speak English or Bahasa at all. So, I didn’t know how to travel or how to use the bus, train, taxi and all kinds of things. I realized I need to do something to improve my life so I started to learn English by talking and attending English classes with other women.

At first, I felt very embarrassed and shy to speak with people because I felt like, “If I make mistake, what would that person think”. But my co-workers encouraged me to speak and practice more.

I often try to speak in front of people even when I might be wrong. But before I speak, I would tell them, “Sorry, my English is not good. If you don’t understand anything, please ask me”.

After much practice, I can now speak and communicate in English, and I can help the women and children in my community. Most of them would come to me for advice because they don’t know how to travel around the city and find the free clinics.

I think education is very important in order to improve our ability to be more independent and to earn income to support ourselves.

Some women regret not learning English earlier. I told them, “Don’t worry. If you want to learn English, you can start now. It’s never too late”.

My husband and I are happy that I invested time to learn English as I now have a steady job with NGOs and I am helping my community. I can also afford things for myself and my children and save money for emergency.


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