One of the things I have been very impressed with in Malaysia is the range of things the ‘expat’ women are doing. Women are actively ensuring the quality of the ‘good life’ for themselves and their families, but also for locals, and for other groups living in the destination. Women do incredible work, much of it voluntarily, unpaid, and with little recognition.
First of all there are the amazing organisations, for example, the International Women’s Association Penang, the Association of British Women in Malaysia, and St Patrick’s Society of Selangor. I met women from each of these organisations and was really impressed with the work they are doing.
Their activities include: social events that bring together people of diverse nationalities; educational events, where the members learn about the cultures and habits of other nationalities, often from each other; fundraising events for diverse local and national charities; and that is not to mention al the work the women (sometimes men) have to do to run these organisations and their newsletters! (I am sure if any Western Women in Malaysia are reading this you can tell me more!)
I also met many individual women who are working voluntarily in children’s homes, at schools, and with numerous charities that support the handicapped, the deaf and blind, animal charities, and charities for those who are suffering ill health. These women not only support the work of the organisation, but also support each other in their voluntary work through coffee mornings, meetings, and the sharing of emotional and practical support.
Above all, I got the sense that life in Malaysia was something to enjoy (hence our term lifestyle migration) and that women are:
1) working hard to help each other make the best of their lives, and
2) working equally hard to learn about and give something back to the society that hosts them.