Deborah Henry is the co-founder of Fugee School and she has devoted her life to human rights advocacy and sustainable development with a long-term goal of eliminating poverty. As the daughter of a former teacher, Henry initiated Fugee School back in 2009 to provide equal educational opportunities to refugee children in Malaysia, a cause that is close to her heart.
To achieve the goal of making Fugee School a self-sustaining organisation, Henry founded Fugeelah in 2017. This mission-driven social enterprise not only provides employment opportunities to the communities they engage with but also collaborates with independent creatives like Khoon Hooi and Siti Saleha to produce limited-edition products for sale. All profits generated from these collaborations contribute to funding their students’ examination fees. In addition to her work with Fugee School, Henry serves as a refugee rights advocate for UNHCR.
When she’s not fighting to save the world, the former beauty queen has a serious passion for travel and is always exploring obscure and incredible sites all over the world.
What are your ‘strange’ travel must-haves?
Maybe this is telling of my age but I always bring my little medicine kit with tablets, essential for any unexpected health issues. Hygiene is a priority with my sprays and wipes on the plane, at the hotel, and in a cab. My travel essential oils, especially peppermint and relaxation blends, are my go-to for calming down, soothing my tummy, and relieving headaches and generally help me feel good when I travel.
Have you ever had a travel mishap that turned into a funny story?
So, who hasn’t lost their luggage on a holiday at some point? Two years ago, I was in the south of France with my family for a friend’s wedding. When we arrived at our hotel, I had realised I left one of my bags in the cab. We chased the taxi to no avail, but luckily we managed to track it down, and after going through the trials and tribulations of the cab driver not speaking a word of English, I finally managed to retrieve my bag from the driver at the airport. I was very lucky, all my stuff was there and it ended up being a great holiday and wedding!
What’s the most underrated travel destination you’ve been to, and why do you think it’s so special?
I went on a trip last year and it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s a remote Indian state called Ladakh, which is way up north. Known as the ‘Cold Desert,’ as its completely barren – it’s majestic and feels like another planet. It is pretty adventurous, I also got to play with goats that produce cashmere wool and go to see so many incredible sights. I recommend it for those who love a little adventure in their travels.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three things with you, what would they be?
The practical side of me says a Swiss Army knife would definitely come in handy. How would someone find me? I’ll need flares for signalling, for sure. And thirdly, a GPS device that will work even on a remote island.