The percentage of refugee children in Malaysia has been growing in recent years with a rise of more than 9000 in less than 3 years. More than 51,000 of the 164,620 documented refugees in 2019 are below the age of 18 years. Refugee children are often marginalized in society making them vulnerable and requiring special assistance in meeting their educational needs, mental health care and socio-emotional wellbeing. The purpose of this study was to discover the perceptions of refugee children regarding family life and their emotional and coping mechanisms. Employing the Collage Life-Story Elicitation Technique (CLET) and a discovery-oriented narrative approach, 25 refugee children at a non-governmental educational center in Kuala Lumpur were interviewed. The findings from an in-depth thematic analysis revealed that these refugee children perceived their families as having gone through separation and disruption resulting in isolation, loneliness and being powerless in the host country. Their coping mechanisms included help offered by enabling adults, teachers seen as angels and other wise people from the community who were their sources of strength. They strived for a better future through being brave and independent. We also discuss the need for more humanitarian programs and support for this group of vulnerable children in Malaysia.
refugee children, collage life-story elicitation technique (CLET), narrative approach, self-striving
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Recommended APA Citation
Kok, J., Khor, K., Hon, K., & van Schalkwyk, G. J. (2021). Refugee Children in Malaysia: Perceptions of Family and Coping Mechanisms. The Qualitative Report, 26(12), 3926-3947. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2021.5114