Empowering youths to make a difference

Govinash Visvanathan from AIESEC Malaysia speaking at the 15th Asia-Pacific Regional and Youth Volunteer Conference here.

MORE young people are raising their voices to have a positive impact on society.

This was evident when several hundred youths from 32 countries gathered in Malaysia recently for the 15th Asia-Pacific Regional and Youth Volunteer Conference organised by Yayasan Salam Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre

Among the local and international NGOs which took part included Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa (YSS), Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) and 12 others.

The theme for this year was “The power of volunteering: what have you changed?” The participants heard from experts and fellow volunteers on how to promote volunteering at home and abroad.

At the opening, HWPL project director Hyoung Sik Kim said that as future leaders of the world, youth “should be more aware of the problems in society and lead efforts to solve them.”

“When facing a historical crossroads, youths have to raise their voices and think about what kind of country and society you want to make. To create a sustainable society, the activities of the youth must be supported.”

During the conference, participants also attended lectures by experts from various sectors on the role of young people in affecting change.

“Through IPYG’s Youth Empowerment game session, I realise that youths have to urge the international community to make international law based on the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW),” said a participant and student of international law at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.

“It’s not just making laws but educating for sustainable peace in the world.”

To that end, HWPL — an international peace NGO which has consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council and is associated with the UN’s Public Information Department — is carrying out various education activities to spread a culture of peace based on the DPCW.

While here, the youths also participated in short-term community service activities.

These were organised by Rumah Salam — a centre managed by Yayasan Salam for marginalised children and women located in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur; PDK Hulu Kelang — a rehabilitation/training centre for those with multiple disorders; Malaysian Foundation for the Blind (MFB) — which champions access and equality for the blind and partially sighted people and Kindness Malaysia — which is dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness.

At Rumah Salam, the youth socialised with the women and conducted a storytelling session with the children, said Yayasan Salam project executive and conference committee member Masriah Dahlan.

She said that at PDK Hulu Kelang, the youth helped paint the building, made floor mats from used cloth with the trainees and also planted vegetable in the courtyard.

At MFB, they learnt how to lead the blind correctly and the basics of the Braille alphabet.

Kindness Malaysia organised two projects for the youths, said Masriah.

Under Project Seringgit, they distributed one ringgit notes to LRT commuters and under Project Petrol, they distributed two ringgit petrol vouchers to motorcyclists.

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