By Sonia Awale
In the busy Selayang wholesale market, the narrow alleys are lined with rusty rain-streaked two-storey buildings.
This is where as many as 10,000 Rohingyas have made a home for themselves after fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
There are about 150,000 Rohingyas in Malaysia alone, most living here illegally, and often without refugee status. Just above 50,000 are registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Malaysia.
Some have been here for decades, living in Malaysia without any legal status.
“I’m a Rohingya but I consider myself a Malaysian,” says a smiling 19-year-old Hamida Mohamed Yosuf (photo).
She was born and brought up in Terengganu, along with eight other siblings, after her parents left Myanmar over 30 years ago.
Hamida can speak and read Bahasa Malaysia fluently, lives in a modest house with her parents, husband, a toddler son, and a brother, in a household with a relatively steady income.
Her story is one that inspires hope among the Rohingya community eking out a living in Malaysia…