He set up his own charity group when he was only nine, and recently helped over 100 families with basic necessities during the movement control order (MCO). In fact, his effort has received international acclaim; he was recently featured on BBC My World, an online video series by executive producers Angelina Jolie and BBC World Service.
In a #CoronaKindness episode on how youngsters around the world are playing their part to help people during the Covid-19 pandemic, Danish Harraz, 13, talked about how he provided food and meals for the underpriviledged.
During the MCO, Danish also transferred funds to needy families across the country to help them purchase items like milk and diapers. Additionally, he came up with a Beg Bantuan Covid-19 initiative, which are grocery bags worth RM75 each filled with supplies like cooking oil, flour, sugar and cream crackers distributed to 50 families in Selangor and neighbouring states.
Then, he launched a second phase of the initiative, giving out groceries worth RM100 each to 60 families.
Apart from that, Danish, along with his parents, also helped prepare fresh meals to distribute to foreign workers, the homeless and underprivileged families around his neighbourhood so they have something to eat for buka puasa.
As Malaysians are urged to maintain social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, Danish explained that by transferring funds to those who appealed to him for help and providing meals to those living closer to him, it was the safest way for him and his family to continue helping others during the MCO.
All the funds for the initiatives come from the charity group called Danish Love and Support Crew which he set up four years ago.
From a young age, Danish learned how to cook by watching YouTube videos. He shared that his mother helped to develop his interest in cooking.
“My mum decided to include me in the kitchen when she was preparing meals. She gave me kiddie utensils and let me cut vegetables using a plastic butter knife, ” he said.
Eventually, Danish was allowed to start cooking on his own while his mum helped to get ingredients and observed him in the kitchen.
“I remember the first recipe that I successfully prepared on my own when I was six. It was spaghetti bolognese and my first dessert was caramel pudding.”
Soon, Danish wanted to learn how to create his own recipes and started tweaking and experimenting with various ingredients. He then asked if his parents would allow him to share his successful recipes and cooking videos on social media.
“I try to make sure that the recipes are not complicated and fail-proof so it will be easier for everyone to follow.”
One of his earliest cooking videos was uploaded by his parents on Instagram under the handle danish.harraz in 2013, where a six-year-old Danish showed viewers how to prepare french toast using chocolate hazelnut paste and strawberries.
“I never share incomplete, complicated or tasteless recipes as I don’t want my followers to spend a lot of time, money and effort just to fail. I just want them to be able to learn how to do something new and enjoy their efforts, just as much as I did when I created the recipe.”
Danish has received some positive feedback about his recipes, including from budding entrepreneurs who shared that his recipes have inspired them to start their own food business.
“They will contact me to ask for permission to use recipes like cookies or cakes to sell to others. I’m always open to giving them some extra tips and tricks.
“I share my recipes for the greater good of the community. It feels great knowing that my recipes can help to generate income and improve people’s livelihood, which is one of the reasons why I keep doing what I do right now.”
A heart for others
As Danish’s work is on the Internet, he said that he is not immune to criticism.
“I try not to share anything that could lead to negativity. Unfortunately, the Internet is a vast and open space, so people can say anything they want. I was not spared from getting negative comments but I always try to stay positive, brush it off and focus on doing better.”
As his influence grew – he now has over 200,000 followers on Instagram – Danish also collaborated with various brands on recipe videos using specific ingredients. The income he receives from his collaborative work is channeled to his charity group.
“I have extra funds and I intend to help in any way that I can. My focus is to help poverty-stricken families, underprivileged students in rural areas, children with cancer, the homeless and the needy.”
Other than his recent MCO effort, Danish has previously helped to provide new school uniforms for 20 students at SK Kuala Geris in Dabong, Kuala Krai, Kelantan. Danish recalled that it was one of his favourite initiatives.
“One day the teacher contacted me, sharing how the students have advanced to the district level choral speaking competition for the first time. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any proper attire for the competition except for their already faded daily uniforms.”
Danish offered to help because he could relate to how the students felt at the time.
“I’m a kid too and I just wanted to lift their spirits so they could do their best for the competition. I managed to get new uniforms such as pants, long skirts, blazers, ties, scarves and shoes for them, ” said Danish, adding that the students won third place in the end.
The big-hearted teen also regularly provides emotional support to young cancer patients at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
“From time to time, I will supply items like milk formula, diapers and school bags. I also visit often to bring food and entertainment, like a clown. In my last visit, I brought special guests (dressed as) Black Panther and Spiderman.”
Danish shared that he feels sad when he sees some of the patients in pain.
“They have machines attached to their bodies but I have to hide my feelings because I visit them to make them happy. I admire them for being strong and laughing with us, despite being unwell.”
On a normal day, Danish is just another regular teenager who has homework and revisions to complete before he is allowed to experiment in the kitchen for more recipes.
“Balance is the key to what I am doing right now. I’m thankful to my parents who have helped me come up with a schedule, which I’ve gotten used to.”
In future, Danish hopes to be able to organise more initiatives such as helping students living in rural areas.
“My goal is to help as many people as possible with my little talent and using my social media platform. I hope I can inspire more people out there to share content on social media that can bring positive outcomes to those who need help.”
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