When we went to the hawker stall for a bowl of beef noodle soup, I didn’t know it would be the last time I saw my friend Kai Lee. She giggled as I ordered the same bowl as her, complete with the tenderly braised sirloin, the starchy sauce and just enough cartilage and “wobbly bits” to bring me to the edge of my culinary limits.
Was the cancer, this cruel disease, present there with us as we continued our day-long meeting over lunch, discussing her casework with Nepali migrants navigating employer treachery and an unsympathetic immigration system?
We never really know, do we, if any of us will have another day. We step out of the door in the morning, dragging or rushing, the future ahead of us with all our big and little plans. We laugh over lunch. Any of it could be the “last.”
But we were focused, her and I at that lunch, on the issue at hand: finding the best way to tell the stories (of which there were so many) of the hardship faced by the workers who arrived in Malaysia on legitimate work permits and were mistreated by employers in the process.
I’ve written elsewhere about how the last words someone says to you leave a mark. Something that strikes me as we gear up for the official release of Hope In Action is how much Kai Lee’s work and influence fills the pages of the book.
The stories “Eventually I’ll Find a Good One”, “What Would You Do to Provide for Your Family?” and “Help Us Run Away…Please!” which you can read right now online, come directly from her casework.
Although the work Kai Lee did to help the real people in these stories is only a small part of her legacy (her faith in action reached thousands of people in Nepal, Malaysia and beyond) they give a glimpse into the sort of valiant kindness that underscored her life and is typical of people on the front lines addressing injustice.
That valiant, determined kindness is a startling vision to behold.
I never asked Kai Lee how she found the time to help so many people—though it consumed so much of her time, her work helping the vulnerable wasn’t her “real job”. What was clear, without having to ask, is that she perpetually allowed her life to be interrupted by the genuine needs of others who crossed her path.
The uncanny thing is that as she was willing, she had increasingly more opportunity to reach out to the needs of others. This part of her legacy has jumped out at me especially as I read through the pages of Hope In Action.
I hope you’ll read this book, and if you do, that you’ll be touched by the work of my friend Kai Lee. May her valiant life and faith rub off on all of us.
ABOUT HOPE IN ACTION
Shocking stories of human rights abuses in South East Asia have now been heard around the world. Hope in Action gives an up-close look at the lives of migrants and refugees as they come to Malaysia. It portrays an honest and eye-opening account of their experiences.
Through stories, photographs, reflections and extensive research, Hope in Action shines a light on what many migrant workers and refugees currently endure in Malaysia. It will refresh compassion for people who are in desperate situations and equip readers to help those in need.
Join the thousands of readers throughout Malaysia and around the world who are compelled to become true hope in action!
Want to order print copies for your study group, youth group, book club or church? Order print copies here.