The beauty with a golden heart, Deborah Henry is a fervent advocate for children and refugee’s rights


Deborah Henry, who is of Malaysian and Irish blood, has dedicated her life to human rights advocacy, sustainable development and has a long-term goal to eradicate poverty. The daughter of a former teacher, Henry co-founded Fugee School in 2009 with the aim of giving refugee children living in Malaysia equal access to education, a cause she’s always been passionate about.

Starting off with providing basic math and English lessons to four children from the Somali refugee community, the non-for-profit organisation has grown tremendously and now provides a holistic academic education to equip 200 students with the right tools and opportunities for a better life. The school kept its doors open throughout the lockdown to keep the children engaged and mentally stimulated. Recognising the need to help their students pursue tertiary education, Henry recently established the Fugee HiEd Scholarship, the first of its kind specifically for refugees in Malaysia.

Aiming to fund Fugee School’s operations with the goal of becoming self-sustaining organisation is Fugeelah, a mission-driven social enterprise Henry has set up in 2017. Apart from providing employment to the communities they work with, Henry brings in special collaborations with independent creatives like Khoon Hooi and Siti Saleha to create limited edition products for sale, with 100 per cent of the profits going towards funding their students’ examination fees. Henry is also a refugee rights advocate for UNHCR.

"I see something I think that needs to change and I do it and figure things out along the way."

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Deborah has also dipped her toes in acting and was casted in film The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines, which was released in 2011.

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