KUALA LUMPUR: United States president Barack Obama has called on countries around the world to offer a safe haven for refugees, as he took some time off his packed schedule here today to visit the Dignity for Children for Foundation, an educational institution for urban poor and refugee children in Sentul. During the visit, Obama spent about 20 minutes in a classroom with ten child refugees, aged between seven and nine, helping them with their art projects. Obama spoke to the children individually about their classes, their favourite subjects and their hopes and dreams. Speaking to reporters later, Obama said children like them were deserving of the world’s protection and support. “Anyone who has had a chance to see these kids, hopefully you’ll understand the degree with which they’re just like our kids. They deserve love, protection, stability, and an education,” he said. Obama said while the world’s attention was currently focused on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, it should not forget the 60 million people who had been displaced around the globe. He refuted fears that Muslim refugees brought with them the threat of terrorism, saying that the children he met were “the opposite of terror, the opposite of the type of despicable violence we saw in Mali and Paris.” As part of his visit, Obama met with a group of young refugees who had recently completed the process of being resettled in the US. The US, he said, would remain open to refugees as long as he remained in office. “As long as I’m president, we are going to keep on stepping up,” he said. Obama also acknowledged Malaysia’s efforts to welcome and support refugees around the world. Malaysia has taken in 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from countries including Sudan, Somalia and Myanmar, he said. The Dignity Foundation aims to empower underprivileged and urban poor children through quality education. It was founded more than 15 years ago by chairman Rev Elisha Satvinder and his wife Petrina after they discovered many underprivileged families in the Sentul area. The foundation has grown from an institution with just 20 students, to a learning centre with 1,000 poor and vulnerable children ranging from 2 to 17 years old. It provides quality education and care in a secure environment for its students from pre-school to Form 5.
Obama visits children’s centre in Sentul
21 November 2015
By Rozanna Latiff –