Refugee Employability Enhancement Program (REEP)

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Purpose statement

The Need
Myanmar refugees in Malaysia currently lack access to formal and legal employment, and are forced to work illicitly and take up odd jobs to support themselves and their families. As a result, they are often exploited by their employees.

However, the Malaysian government has lately begun to work toward granting work permits to the Myanmar refugees. Therefore, this project seeks to improve the business acumen of the refugees and increase their ability to obtain official employment (once they are legally allowed to do so.)


This project is proposed as a 2-year project (2013-2015), with the following components:

1. Students will...

i. research about the culture of Myanmar and Malaysia to produce relevant training materials
ii. create surveys to assess the refugees' current skill sets and psychological states
iii. analyze customer data and business trends in Malaysia to narrow down a pool of suitable jobs for the refugees
iv. determine skills that Malaysian employers look for in employees
v. identify effective methods to present the training materials to the refugee
vi. develop a training curriculum for instructors to facilitate the growth of the refugees' skills

2. The client organization will receive the following product by the end of May 2015:

  • Curricular materials for the Myanmar refugees to develop their skills needed to secure a proper job. These will be delivered electronically.


The idea of the Refugee Employability Enhancement Program (REEP) was birthed in the spring of 2013, when project leader Phoebe Chua was attending a Collaboratory chapel session. She was struck by memories and thoughts of the Myanmar refugees in Malaysia when the session leader encouraged the members present to listen to the “invisible voices” – the voices of those who were unable to speak for themselves, who were ‘invisible’ in the eyes of society.

Her desire to improve their situation stemmed from an earlier encounter with them in 2011, when she co-organized a board games competition for Myanmar refugee children and teachers together with Malaysian Care and Methodist College Kuala Lumpur. During the event, a sixteen year old boy expressed his interest in furthering his studies and obtaining an education. However, his level of education was that of a twelve year old, and as a refugee in Malaysia, he was not allowed to formally attend any school. At that time, Phoebe was attending a private college in Kuala Lumpur, and spoke to some of the staff regarding this boy’s situation, but there was little that could be done to help him. This incident lingered in Phoebe’s mind, and when thoughts of the Myanmar refugees struck her, this boy was foremost in her thoughts.

Taking this as God’s call and direction, last summer, Phoebe contacted the staff of Malaysian Care and articulated her desire to contribute to their efforts in assisting these refugees. After much discussion with the leaders of Malaysian Care and a Myanmar refugee center, they concluded that the most practical way to aid these refugees is to improve their business acumen so that they can obtain official employment. Thus, project REEP was born.




Contact Information

For more information about this project, please contact:

Phoebe Chua:

For more information about this template, please read Help:Project article and Help:Template.
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