“I didn’t want to come to Malaysia. I wanted to stay with my parents and go to school”.

Mai Mai (not her real name) is just 15 years old. She arrived in Malaysia less than 10 days ago. When I asked her why she came to Malaysia, she said “problems with soldiers”. A few minutes later, after asking about her journey to Malaysia, I asked again, about what the problems with the soldiers were. All she said was “It’s too much to explain. I don’t know how…” and left it at that. Eventually, the story emerged.

“My parents are farmers. They plant rice. Every day, me and my bigger sister walk to our parent’s farm to bring them food. One day 3 soldiers stopped us. Two soldiers took my sister away. They came back after about an hour. She was crying. They told us not to tell anyone or else they would harm us. We went to our parents. We were both crying. They kept asking us what happened”.

“My father went to the village headman to report what happened. They both went to the army camp. About four hours later, the soldiers came to look for us. My father asked us to run. We ran to our relatives staying at the next village. The soldiers came everyday to look for us. My aunty contacted my uncle who is in Malaysia and he agreed to pay for our passage there”.

Mai Mai spent 10 harrowing days making the journey from her village to Kuala Lumpur. Mai Mai’s sister was arrested during the journey because she didn’t have her identity card with her. Because Mai Mai was young, she got through. She doesn’t know what has happened to her sister. Mai Mai spent 3 days on a ship, sleeping on the floor next to the toilet. She couldn’t eat because she was sea-sick. She crossed the Malaysian-Thai border by walking through a jungle at night. They had no lights, and Mai Mai was so afraid. Before this journey, has never been more than a few miles outside of her village in the Arakan State.

“I didn’t want to come to Malaysia. I wanted to stay with my parents and go to school”.

Without any documents, she a virtual prisoner in the Kuala Lumpur apartment that she stays in now. She does nothing, or more accurately, she can do nothing.

Her uncle living in Malaysia is about to be relocated to a third country soon. When he goes, she will be alone in Malaysia. At 15.

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