Women in Education (Fugee School) – Deborah Priya Henry

According the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 3.7 million refugee children are out of school. And out of the 19.9 million refugees under their care, 7.4 million are of school age. This is a rather worrying trend, as education is a necessary tool for children in order to gain knowledge and progress in life. Without education, these children may be pulled into the vicious cycle of poverty, with no escape in sight. As of end July 2019, approximately 178,010 refugees and asylum-seekers are registered with UNHCR in Malaysia. Out of these 178 thousand, 33, 640 are children. There is thus a pressing need help the children of the refugees to attend school or gain some form of education. 

Fortunately, there are Asian women who have collaborated to provide these children the most valuable thing in the world. In today’s article, we discuss the contributions of Deborah Priya Henry, co-founder of the Fugee School.


Who is She?

A beauty with brains, former Miss Malaysia World and Miss Universe Malaysia, Deborah Priya Henry is the co-founder of the Fugee school. But before the glitz and glamour, Deborah found a different calling early on, and that is to work with refugees in Malaysia. Her mission was simple – to bring the fundamental human right education to the displaced and stateless refugee children. So, in 2008, she co-founded Fugee School for the displaced children and helps fund the 173-student school, which is in its 7th year of operation, and now serves as a platform for the refugee communities who are mainly from Somalia to learn English, Mathematics and Science.

In 2013, Deborah was included in Forbes’s list of top Asian philanthropists.


How Was Fugee School Built?

Fugee School was first established when Deborah and her university friend, Shikeen, were giving tuition. Now Fugee school is on a mission to see that no child gets left behind. The school has witnessed the transformation of students as they a newfound access to knowledge and are empowered with life-skills that help to build their confidence and self-worth.


Challenges She Faced

On top of the usual teething pains such as the processes and operations of running a school, the key challenge or hurdle back she had then was her career. Being a full-time model, TV host and emcee means round-the-clock travelling and jam-packed schedules. Most days, Deborah does not even have time for herself. Although she still has to juggle her full-time career and running Fugee School, her passion for helping children has kept her going.


What Motivates Her

Have you heard of the Irish ring called the Claddagh ring? It has a heart held by two hands with a crown on top. The design represents four things which I live by – love, friendship, integrity and loyalty. It is these four elements which motivate Deborah to persevere through the persistent challenges of life.

Who Inspired You

 “Good people inspire me. I admire anyone who has done good in their life. Let it be their career, their family life or even their personal life. To me, it is important to see the good in others. Anyone and everyone we meet in our journey of life will always have something which we can learn and be inspired from. To be able to see the good in others and use it to improve ourselves, that is what inspires me.”

Do you wish to learn more tips about digital transformation? If so, then do attend our upcoming H.E.R Asia Summit happening on the 2-3rd of October. The theme for this year will be on digital transformation and innovation to accelerate business growth. For more information, click here.

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