TO encourage Malaysians to pursue their goals without delay, Manulife embarked on a month-long campaign in January that called on people to take control of their future.
The Manulife #StartNow challenge saw participants pitching their dreams on-air via FlyFM radio station or upload a 60-second video on Instagram.
Eventually, four Malaysians – three from Instagram and one from the on-air entry – were picked based on the creativity, sustainability and feasibility of their pitch.
Interestingly, their projects bore a similar objective – to inspire people, create awareness and to educate.
Art director, musician and photographer Rociel Sama aspires to be a storyteller by using different art forms and channels to convey her story.
Her dream is for the world to become her audience as she enjoys taking people on a roller coaster of emotions, provoking thought and affecting lives.
“The story I wish to tell in this project is the analogy of life being a bus ride.
“People get in; ride along with you; leave different impressions on you; and eventually they get off at their own stops,” quipped the chirpy 26-year-old who plans to publish a comic book.
She will use the RM10,000 prize money to engage publishers to print her content and get it into bookstores, get promotional materials as well as to hold a book launch.
Both Yap Jo Leen, 26, and Lee Soon Yong, 28 also won RM10,000 while Saiyidah Izzati Nur, 29, who won the on-air pitch, bagged RM3,000.
Yap, a nature lover and animal activist, is also the project coordinator for Langur Project Penang which began in January last year.
The project focuses on researching and investigating the activity pattern, habitat use, and diet of the Dusky Leaf Monkeys (langur) in the state, wildlife conservation and nature education.
“With the money, we can now expand the research and conduct surveys while getting more equipment to collect more data and creating awareness via social media.
“We also hope the funds will help us reach out to local schools to educate young people and adults by collaborating with governmental bodies, educational institutions and other NGOs,” she said.
Yap, who is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Zoology, hopes to establish Langur Project Penang as a proper NGO someday.
Lee, on the other hand, aims to provide a sustainable and conducive environment for children to access education.
He is the curator of Little Giraffe Book Club, a community library in Cheras, where Lee lives.
He started it five years ago and has since organised many activities including an art exhibition for autistic children, monthly storytelling and bringing books to parks so children and their parents can drop by to read.
“With the prize, we want to relocate the library to a bigger space so we can equip it with more reading materials.
“There will be space for people to come and share their stories while another part of the library can be rented out for commercial purposes so we can generate revenue to pay for the rent of the library,” said the passionate Lee.
Saiyidah, on the other hand, who was not able to attend the prize-giving ceremony, works with a non-governmental organisation called REED – One Child at a Time, which collaborates with Teach Malaysia to provide free education services to children who cannot afford extra education like tuition.
With the funds, she intends to equip the learning centre with more learning materials that could aid the students further.
Many Malaysians are fully aware of the need for financial planning, but too many put them off, said Manulife Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Mark O’Dell.
“So the goal of our campaign is to bring the attention to starting now and start planning for your future.
“Through this campaign, we want to encourage Malaysians to share with us their dreams and what ‘start now’ means to them, and how are they going to do that,” he said.
With the success of this campaign, Manulife is looking to bring it back next year, and O’Dell assured that there would be more similar campaigns in the future.
“It is important for us to try and engage with our community, and we are pleased with the results,” he said.