‘Everyone has a migration story’:

Telling shared stories and building positive narratives on migration in Malaysia

Every recipe has its own story – from Kaldu Kokot from Indonesia’s Madura island, Cambodia’s number one food Nom Banh Chok, traditional Pakistani dish Chicken Korma, Kachin jungle food Shan Ju, Tamil staple Puttu, Yemeni Chicken Mandy, to Rohingya flatbread Ludifida. Each of the seven episodes of the ‘Dari Dapur’ campaign brings one of these recipes to life, representing the rich diversity of food and culture that migrants have brought with them to Malaysia.

All recipes featured in seven episodes of ‘Dari Dapur’

The Dari Dapur campaign was launched by the UN Human Rights Office in December 2022 in partnership with Kuala Lumpur-based social impact production team untitled kompeni, aiming to place human rights and human stories at the heart of public narratives on migration in Malaysia.

‘Dari Dapur’ brings migrants and Malaysians together to bond over their love of good food, in a format where each recipe comes with its own story. Through seven short films, celebrities from different walks of life are brought into the kitchens of migrant workers and refugees, to share a home-cooked meal around the same table, to hear about each other’s lives, hopes and dreams and to learn what we all have in common.

The video series features eleven social media influencers and celebrities from across different fields in Malaysia, including comedian Kavin Jay, food Instagram Influencer Elvi, celebrity chef Chef Wan, social justice influencer Dr Hartini Zainudin, hijabi rapper Bunga, educator Samuel Isaiah, Tamil film star Yasmin Nadiah and Chinese-language radio DJ Chrystina, politician and activist Nurul Izzah Anwar, actress Lisa Surihani, and broadcast journalist Melisa Idris.

Malaysian celebrity chef Chef Wan and social justice influencer Dr Hartini Zainudin enjoyed traditional Pakistani dish Ayam Korma and conversations with Hameed, a Pakistani home cook and his family.

“Anytime you cook food and you bring your guests, everyone turns to smile and be happy because food always brings people to the table. Regardless of which culture, where we come from, everybody will need to eat,” declared Malaysian celebrity chef Chef Wan in an episode where he meets Hameed, a Pakistani home cook and his family.

“What I learned was ‘try and not let what you do not know of affect the way you treat other human beings.’ No matter who it is our actions should be rooted in kindness,” Malaysian actress Lisa Surihani shares this important reflection in an episode in which she meets Suha, an Indonesian plantation worker and her family.

Malaysian actress Lisa Surihani poised for a picture with her host Suha, an Indonesian plantation worker after sharing a meal of Cow’s feet soup Kaldu Kokot at an oil palm estate.

“To have someone come here to visit me, to see me and to see my friends, I’m so happy,” Cambodian plantation worker Liza treated comedian Kavin Jay and food instagrammer Elvi to Nom Banh Chok .

Praising Suha’s cooking, Kavin Jay observed: “Everyone has a migration story. It doesn’t matter what your race is, if you look back far enough, you will find your migration story.”

“I would like to know them and I am also very happy that I can explain what I am doing and who I am [to them],” Ayesha, a Rohingya community trainer notes as she prepares an iftar feast for Malaysian broadcast journalist Melisa Idris and U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Brian D. McFeeters for the Eid celebration.

“It’s exactly the same!” Malaysian broadcast journalist Melisa Idris exclaims as she recognizes the similarity between her memories of celebrating Eid in her village and the memories of Rokon, Ayesha’s friend, celebrating Eid as a child in Rakhine. “Sometimes we focus on the differences and don’t realise we have almost exactly the same traditions,” she said.

Liza, a Cambodian plantation worker shared jokes and laughters with Malaysian comedian Kavin Jay and food instagrammer Elvi during their day trip to visit her plantation.

According to research commissioned by the UN Human Rights Office in order to design the ‘Dari Dapur’ campaign, Malaysians largely see the benefits that migration brings to the country’s economy and society yet are daunted by some of the complex issues that it raises such as on integration. This research showed that Malaysians overwhelmingly agree that respect for human rights is a sign of a decent society and that everyone deserves equal rights in the country. Some 63% agreed that our communities are stronger when we support everyone, and more than half believe that we should help other people no matter who they are or where they come from. Around 35% of Malaysians strongly or somewhat strongly believe that people fleeing persecution or war should be welcomed, with an equal number wanting to welcome those who are unable to obtain healthcare, education, food or decent work.

“Migration is a complicated and often abstract issue for many Malaysians”, said Pia Oberoi, Senior Advisor on Migration in the Asia Pacific region for the UN Human Rights Office, “but storytelling is a good way to cut through the noise. Our research found that people want to hear and see the everyday lives of people on the move, to understand and appreciate that we have more in common than what divides us. The Dari Dapur campaign, which is built on shared realities and universal values, brings to life the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which turns 75 this year.”

“We need shared stories that show migrants and refugees have a place in the Malaysian narratives,” said Elroi Yee, an investigative journalist and the producer of the ‘Dari Dapur’ campaign. “I can’t think of a better way than using food to bring everyone to the table. With the production of these short films we hope to inspire Malaysian storytellers to share the narrative space, and for all of us to rethink the way we relate to our migrant and refugee neighbours.”

The campaign is the second edition of the #StandUp4Migrants campaign in the Asia Pacific region, a global initiative of the UN Human Rights Office to build human-rights based narratives around migrants and migration. The first edition brought the ‘MyGreat Story’ campaign to Australia in September 2022.

Learn more about the Dari Dapur campaign: https://bangkok.ohchr.org/daridapur-my/

 Watch the videos and follow Dari Dapur – Instagram: @daridapur.my, Facebook: @daridapur.my and Youtube: @daridapur_my