In October, 15-year-old Lian*, a Chin refugee from Myanmar living in Kuala Lumpur, dropped out of school to work. Two of the three income earners in his family of seven had lost their jobs and money ran out for Lian’s school fees of RM 100 (about $25 USD) per month.

“My father asked me to drop out of school because he couldn’t afford to pay my education fees,” says Lian, who hopes one day to serve his community as a musician at his church. Now, he is selling shoes at a shopping mall. He says he misses his teachers and classmates, and the support they gave him to pursue his learning. “During this difficult time, I have to prioritise my family’s livelihood,” he tells New Naratif.

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Emily Fishbein is a freelance journalist focusing on issues related to conflict and displacement, human rights, and social justice in Myanmar and Malaysia.

Jaw Tu Hkawng is from Kachin State and is pursuing a law degree in Malaysia, where he has also been a volunteer teacher at a Kachin community school since 2014. As a writer and activist, he advocates for peace, human rights and education.

Benjamin is an amateur photographer in Kuala Lumpur.