Being A Social Changemaker: The Students' Perspective!
On Friday, January 17, 2020, five social change-makers from Kuala Lumpur came to Grade 5 to share how they have made a difference in our community.
They were Suan Tan, Siti Kasim, Janine Williams, the Poppovitch family (Trash Heroes), and lastly, Mareena Yahya Kerschot.
They inspired us all Grade 5 students and teachers.
All of them are making a difference on this planet and intend to pursue their intentions of making a difference in this world.
- Suan Tan works for the WWF ( World Wildlife Fund ) organization. She helps the forest and the animals.
- Siti Kasim is standing for Orang Asli rights.
- Janine Williams is part of the Chin's Women's Organization School and is helping children.
- The Poppovitch family (Trash Heros) pick up trash in different areas and make this environment a better place.
- Tak Nak Straws help spread the word of not using plastic straws.
Suan Tan WWF
Suan Tan helped and made a difference in this environment by assisting tigers and indirectly, the whole forest. She works for the WWF (World Wildlife Fund). She said that tigers are an essential part of this world because if tigers were to become extinct, there would be too many deers. They would eat way too many leaves, and soon, they would eat all the leaves and grass and eventually die of starvation. She said we could help her by signing up and giving your pledge to their official site: http://www.wwf.org.my/tiger_pledge_/
Siti Kasim is fighting for Orang Asli rights. Orang Asli are the most impoverished community in Malaysia. Siti Kasim is a Member of the Malaysian Bar Human Rights Committee. She goes to the Orang Asli's homes in the jungle and tells them, "You have rights; you need to fight them, speak up for yourself." She has been arrested twice because she stood for Orang Asli land rights. The government gives licenses to people so they can cut down the trees where they live, for development and plantations. Ten lawyers are helping her do this, and Orang Asli needs help and knowing about their rights.
Janine Williams supports the Chin Women's Organization of Kuala Lumpur. Students from the school have tough stories about how they came from Myanmar to Malaysia without a passport visa. A lot of refugees left their families to try and find a better life. At least 153,430 refugees have come from Myanmar into Malaysia. They have traveled 3,000 km and more to come here. There is a story from a boy who said that when he was eight years old, he came to Malaysia with a lot of people from Thailand by boat and then by a van. Many people sat in these vehicles with a 'plastic layer' on top, that had more people sitting up there. It was uncomfortable, with some refugees getting hurt on their journey here, and who did not get proper treatment.
Trash Heroes is an organization of people who pick up trash and try their best to clean the environment. As 5th graders, we learnt that if a plastic piece has a triangle with the numbers 1, 2, or 5 (at the bottom) - its recyclable. They told us that scientists had found 50kg worth of plastics inside a whale, so they decided to do something about it. Amy Popovich mentioned that she saw so much plastic waste near her house, that she decided to clean it up. This was how Trash Heroes began. They have had as many as 500 volunteers pick-up trash over the weekends, with regular sessions every Saturday at 8:30 am where they clean, educate, up-cycle, and use uniforms to make DIY items.
Tak Nak Straws
'Tak Nak Straws' literally means 'don't want straws' in Bahasa Malaysia. Mareena and her organization tried to spread the word of Tak Nak Straws. Their mission is to educate the public about the senselessness of single-use plastic items - which are synthetic and made of petrol chemicals - and in Malaysia alone, people are using 13 million straws a day. The challenges she faces include needing funding, lack of capacity in approaching street hawkers, and of convincing shop owners to stop using plastic. All of this began when she started picking up trash during her holidays, and she saw many littered straws and decided that she was going to spread awareness, and the fact that 'YES WE CAN DO IT.'
The Social Change Maker's Conference received the ISKL Inspiration Fund grant to bring these speakers to ISKL to inspire our students to grow as culturally responsible global citizens.
Written by Grade 5 Students Vidisha Y. and Nadia B