And what is your favourite food, I turn to Lia Mauzuang (not her real name) after asking her 7 year old sister the same question. Smiling, she says “KFC!” (Kentucky Fried Chicken). Hot and Spicy or Original? “Spicy”. Mauzuang, a 15 year old girl, seems like your typical teenager. Everyday, she reads, cooks, watches TV and plays music. “Sometimes I dance”, she says, smiling. Mauzuang likes Britney Spears – “all of the songs” – and Jennifer Lopez. She loves playing the piano too, something that she picked up in Malaysia. Every Sunday they go to church and if she goes there early, she gets to practice and play on the piano. She’s made two friends at Church – an 18 year old girl and a 17 year old boy – the one who teaches her the piano.

She loves the shopping malls and she loves Malaysian food, especially Chinese food. Her favorites are noodles with gravy and Hokkien mee. Together with her family, she gets to eat out once every 2 months. Because she cannot go to school in Malaysia, she spends her time studying the bible, reading newspapers, and learning English and Malay from books.

Later, when I was asking her mother about the differences between RA and her smaller sister, I got to know that unlike her sister, she is not so open, preferring to keep things to herself. “She bears her burden alone. Sometimes I see her cry and when I ask, she says that “at this time my friends are studying in Myanmar. I am here alone. I miss my country and my friends and my cousins and my grandmother””

But Mauzuang says that she prefers to stay in Malaysia because “I can stay together with daddy. Life here is easier and food here is nicer.” Together with her mom and sister, Mauzuang was finally reunited with her father when they all made the dangerous crossing from Myanmar into Malaysia two years ago. They were separated in 2000 when her father, a Christian minister, fled to Malaysia to escape religious prosecution.