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Malaysia’s Invisible Children: An Educator’s Toolkit


A street kid in Bandung, Indonesia | Picture by Henri Ismail

Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia’s most developed nations, and yet, is home to some of the most marginalized children in the world, whose rights are far from recognized or upheld. These children are stateless, refugees, and/or street kids.

It has been estimated that there may be as many as half a million children between the ages of 6 and 18 who roam Malaysia’s streets every night. And the UNHCR has counted 18,600 refugee children. In the red light district of Chow Kit and other neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur, many of these kids are at risk of sexual abuse, imprisonment and deportation, and human trafficking.

These youth face a host of social issues including violence, drug abuse, poverty, and sexual abuse, and are continually failed by a lack of education, social support, and a justice system that often even perpetuates these cycles of abuse. Most live in fear everyday for their security.

Canadian charity group The Paradigm Shift Project created a documentary on Malaysia’s street children.

This film concerns the hardship endured by these youth in urban Malaysia and the measures currently being taken to protect them. Informed by local non-profit organizations Protect and Save the Children Association of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (P.S. the Children), Nur Salam, and the work of Belle and her committed team with refugee children, this project educates the public on the urgent need for international support in an increasingly pressing situation affecting the lives of millions of youth today on the streets of cities throughout the global south.

This project was directed and filmed by Rebecca Sweetman throughout 2009, edited by Paul Shirley, and released in May 2010. To view the film, please visit:

There is also an educator’s toolkit on the film. It has lesson plans, activities, and additional resources that will stimulate a deeper understanding and critical analysis on the film, while still keeping students on track with their curricula requirements. The four levels of the toolkit are designed for primary school right up to university level.

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