I sat close to the seven men, shook their hands, prayed for them under my breath as Ellen took what information she needed from them in order to get them out of detention. The young man I spoke with, his English simple but clear, told me a little about life in the detention centre.
As she drove we talked. I peppered her with questions about the Detention Centres and her work ministering to Vietnamese workers who by some ironic twist of fate, or a bad decision, and usually because of forces outside their own power, arrive in Malaysia legally on contracts, but become illegal in the process.
Some of the other men, like him sold to the syndicate, weren’t so lucky. Had no money at all. And after phone calls to what friends they had in Malaysia, or back home in Burma, or to Bangladesh, when they still were unable to come up with funds – RM 1600, about 500 USD, to pay the men who now owned them for freedom – the pistol whipping, the cutting, the punches and bruising ensued.
The tears trailed across Noor’s face, wove quietly into his narrative when he told us that his family – siblings, a mother, and two sons – were still in the camp. In this place where horrors were not only conveyed in dreams of the night. In this place that he fled. Still living, forever just sitting there, away from their country and, worse, away from him. His wife had run. He had no knowledge of her whereabouts.
A common question I ask and am encountered with when I talk with others about issues of global justice is, “What do I do?” I decided one thing I could do to answer that Q is to put together an annotated list of organizations, causes, resources, and other justice-related work that I think worthwhile and useful. It’s a work in progress.