This week, we met up with three friends Aditi S. (‘24), Ira S. (‘24), and Sana M. (‘24) who decided to become ISKL brand ambassadors for Colour Away Covid (CAC), a student-led initiative founded in Hong Kong in 2020, aimed at supporting low-income families and underprivileged children who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since assuming their roles, they have organized a fundraising campaign on campus with a twist, those who contribute are able to write a personalized letter to the recipient families.
Here is their story.
Sana: Colour Away Covid is a youth-led organization that aims at tackling COVID and helping underprivileged children and their families through these troubled times. They provide support to families that don’t have access to education and other related equipment. What drew us to CAC was about creating personal connections and fostering a culture of empathy and respect.
Aditi: The project that we’re working on is called ‘Dear Malaysia.’ It entails writing personal letters to families that the organization is supporting. Essentially, people who donate get to write a letter starting with ‘Dear Malaysia’, which will later be translated into Bahasa Melayu and sent to the recipients of the donations. The recipients have the option to reply with a letter, and this creates that personal connection.
Ira: The CAC program concentrates on raising awareness and funds for two reputable charities dedicated to its vision. The first organization is Yayasan Chow Kit which provides meals, activities, therapy, educational programs, and case management for at-risk children. The other organization is Dignity for Children, which provides care and education to urban and underprivileged children in Kuala Lumpur.
How did you get involved with this campaign?
Aditi: I found CAC on social media, and since we were stuck at home during the summer, we thought of using the time as an opportunity to provide help and participate in something meaningful. We’re grateful for the opportunities and resources we have in our lives, but we must understand how the pandemic has affected people without the same resources. We believe that taking time out of our lives to support the people in our community is essential.
Ira: When Aditi first pitched the idea to us, I immediately agreed because I wanted to help out in any way possible. Sitting at home during summer made me feel helpless because COVID cases were rising, and all three of us believed that we should be helping those who were vulnerable and in need. We have so much to be grateful for, and the best way we can give back to the community is to help out in any way possible.
Sana: I saw a few posters circulating on social media, but I only got to look at them when Aditi proposed the idea. Like my friends, my first impulse was to jump in because it seemed like a fantastic initiative, and I was just eager to contribute in any way possible.
To get involved, we had to apply via their Instagram. Out of all the roles available, we chose to become Brand Ambassadors because we thought it would be the most impactful and can make a difference in our community since we all go to the same school.
What of ‘Dear Malaysia’ piqued your interest compared to other campaigns that have similar initiatives?
Aditi: What I liked was the personal connection between the donor and the recipient. Often, with other organizations, they ask you to donate money for a great cause, but you never really know where the money is going or how it directly benefits one person. With the ‘Dear Malaysia’ campaign at CAC, we get to have that connection, and we like that.
Ira: I agree with Aditi. What stood out to me was the personal touch of the ‘Dear Malaysia’ campaign. Writing letters will always be viewed as a sentimental gesture, and having words of encouragement from a stranger can mean a lot. When meeting with our CAC advisors, we were able to discuss and talk comfortably, making it so that all our ideas were taken into consideration and could thrive. We were motivated to see the number of people it could touch.
What is your takeaway from this campaign?
Aditi: I think personal communication with everyone can strengthen the community morale and make people more comfortable and happy. Building that community and creating a friendly environment is essential, and I love the way CAC did that. It’s something that we all agree with.
Do you have any advice for those who might want to get involved with a social project or charity but don’t know where to start?
Aditi: Looking through social media is a way to start because there will always be somebody posting about a social movement or organizations to join. It is such an excellent platform for advocacy and finding out more about causes you care for, so don’t be afraid to reach out and contact anyone if you want to get involved.
Ira: You could form a group consisting of people that are like-minded and share similar virtues. One of the primary reasons we took on this project was because we were all passionate about it. To find a cause that you are passionate about and something that you won’t lose interest in would be helpful when wanting to start being part of an initiative.
Sana: You can start in the ISKL community itself. ISKL has many clubs and opportunities, so don’t be afraid to ask your teachers or classmates because everyone is ready to listen and cares for the greater community.
Why do you think advocacy is important?
Ira: It is important because it brings awareness to issues that don’t receive much focus. Social media can give people a voice, and you get to see why certain things are happening and how you can advocate for such people and make a difference. =
Sana: There are so many people out there who don’t have the means to support themselves or have a voice, so when they or other people can post and share their stories on social media, it makes a difference. Even something small can make a big difference in someone else’s life which is why it’s so vital that we continue to raise awareness and join as many charities as we can to help others.
Who or what inspires you or has influenced you?
Aditi: The community around me. My family, friends, and community at ISKL are so kind and caring. We brought this initiative to the decision-makers at ISKL, and they were very interested in moving on with this project. My family has also been the most incredible supporters. They have allowed me to have this wonderful education, and it’s just a pleasant environment to be in.
Sana: I would also say my biggest support is my family. Without the constant support and opportunities they have given me through education, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve a lot. I’m also grateful for my friends who introduced me to this project and influenced me to try new things. Watching them participate in other activities motivates me to join them, encouraging me to do the best that I can. I’m grateful for the tremendous support around me.
Ira: I have to say my family as well because I can always count on them to support me and give me constructive criticism. It’s always a nice way for me to stay motivated. My brother also helps me a lot when I try to involve myself in the community.
What are your plans after High School?
Sana: We had to choose and focus on specific subjects in my previous school, and I found interest in business, humanities, geography, and history. I would say there is a high chance that I might end up doing something in those fields, but at the same time, there is still time for me to think things through.
Ira: I agree because one of the main conversations in my house is what I will do in the future, but I don’t have an answer. I know that my interests right now are in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
Aditi: Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to do something that could directly impact people, so I’ve always wondered what I would do. Recently, I’ve been looking a lot into law, even though I know the journey won’t be an easy one. It’s something that I would interest myself in, so pursuing law is what I want to do.
On a side note – what has been the most memorable moment at ISKL?
Aditi: My most memorable moment was in October (2015) when I was in Grade 3, and I danced at the International Festival. It was the day’s last event, and it was the first time I danced on the ISKL stage. It was exhilarating because a great song was coming up, and everybody was clapping and anticipating the performance. The charisma and the atmosphere were incredible.
Ira: I’ve only been here for a year, but I went to the International Festival in 2019 because my brother was studying at ISKL and saw that everybody in the community was friendly and were happy. That made me want to join ISKL to be part of this community.
Sana: There isn’t any specific moment, but coming to the school for the first time and meeting different people who were so welcoming and friendly was a highlight. In addition to that, I’m part of the choir, and we had a choir performance assessment. It was my first experience doing an after-school activity in ISKL with the standard operating procedures (SOP) in place, so for a second, we could forget about COVID because we all got to be in the theater despite the SOPs.
What does “Be All You Are” mean to you?
Aditi: I think it means being yourself and being the best version of yourself that you can be. It’s also to give your all in everything that you do. It’s something that’s been said a lot, but I think it’s true.
Ira: I agree. I think ‘Be All You Are’ is for you to bring out the best in you using what is around you. You can reach any level that you set yourself to be; you can be whoever you want to be, to be your unique self. The community here truly accepts and applauds you for being yourself.
Sana: I would say it is embracing who you are and striving in whatever you are doing. Many people in other schools out there might tell you to be the best at this or that, but ISKL lets you decide when you’ve done your best and what you want to do. By not putting pressure on us, it allows us to become great students and great people.
What would you like to say to the community about your campaign?
Sana: I hope that this campaign will inspire you to join or contribute to CAC or even be inspired to do something similar on your own. Whether it be taking part in a project you’ve been wanting to for some time or getting involved in the community, it’s not that hard, and it’s fun, so go for it!
Do you know a student, faculty, staff, or alumni with a story to tell? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.
To find more inspiring stories of our community, read about The Cheerful Peer Helper Avae or Alumni lead Kendra!