Three years ago, Muhammad Ali Buwe fled the terror of war and death in Somalia, arriving on the shores of Malaysia in the hope of building a new life here.
Muhammad, 24, is now married, a father and a community leader of the Somali refugees in Kuala Lumpur. But writing this new chapter in life has not been easy for the Mogadishu native.
As a refugee himself, he faced problems getting a job and access to education, as well as further difficulties following the birth of his son.
These hardships, though, were what inspired him to help his community here in Malaysia.
“The most important thing for me, aside from my family, is the need of my community. That is what motivates me to do something for them.
“One of their biggest struggles is the language barrier,” Muhammad, who is fluent in English, told FMT.
“I knew I could do something with my grasp of English to improve their situation.”
Muhammad now oversees education and youth activities for the local Somali community and is also the managing director of a Somali refugee community school which he started in Gombak.
There are other schools in the vicinity as well but they have a limited enrolment capacity for students.
This means a long waiting list. Meanwhile, nearly 200 Somali children go without access to education, Muhammad said.
With the establishment of his school, Muhammad has been able to provide education for around 100 children.
They are part of the 1,000 families in his local community. Muhammad estimates that more than 3,000 Somalis have sought refuge in Malaysia.
He hopes his work with the Somali community in Malaysia will help them revive the dreams and ambitions left behind when they fled their home country.
“Right now, we’re struggling but I know there is a brighter day that will shine.
“Life has been hard, it has definitely been challenging. But I always thank God because, as a refugee, I realise that our community is made up of people who find solutions to their problems.
“Life may be hard but we still try to work on it.”