FROM gender discrimination to child abuse cases and violent crimes in society, participants were treated to a “shocking” experience at the recent The Star-Hotlink Community Service workshop.
“It was good. Most of the students here are protected within their circles and not exposed to the ugly side of life. But this is the reality, it is happening in society and they need to know,” said teacher Zarina M. of SMK Seksyen 10, Kota Damansara.
More than 120 students from secondary schools in Klang Valley attended the workshop which was held in Menara Star recently. It was held to provide useful tips for those interested in taking part in the “Hotlink Nationwide Student Community Service Competition.” The workshop also provided guidelines on writing their project and budget proposals.
There was also good news for students who had only recently found out about the contest and for many who are in the midst of their exams – the extension of the deadline of the contest to May 28.
“We are so relieved. This will give us more time to develop our project idea and write our proposal,” said Khalilah Zaaba, a teacher from SMK Seri Bintang Utara.
To help students with all their queries on any social, environmental and safety issues, “experts” were invited to share their experience and knowledge. The guest speakers were James Nayagam from Shelter Home, Wathshlah G. Naidu from the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Evelyn Lim from the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and Chief Inspector Venu from the Royal Malaysian Police Force.
Help Institute's Centre for Psychology director Dr Goh Chee Leong was the main speaker.
“If you are interested in helping the community, you should not lose heart easily and give up when things do not go your way,” advised Dr Goh, motivating students to take on the responsibility of contributing to their community.
Drawing examples from a few community programmes he and his students have been involved in, Dr Goh stressed that everyone can do something to make their world a better place.
Open to all secondary school students aged 13 to 18 years old, the “Hotlink Nationwide Student Community Service Competition” calls for ideas on projects that can benefit their school or community. The winning team gets RM10,000 to implement its project, and RM5,000 for itself.
All students have to do, Dr Goh added, is open their eyes to the world around them to be in touch with the issues and problems plaguing their community.
“Even if you can't save the world, you can do a few things to make an impact on people's lives. Start small, something not too ambitious. Your family or school is a good place to start.''
Once the students were raring to go, the experts spoke on their specific fields to enlighten those interested on the spectrum of possible community service programmes.
Nayagam of Shelter Home caused a stir when he shared his experience of working with children from abused home. Unapologetic, he showed the participants the sufferings of a few unfortunate children to stress how important it is for the luckier ones to help the needy.
Inspector Venu spoke on crime prevention measures and urged students to assist the police in keeping the community safe. He admitted that female students are at risk of crimes against them and suggested a few steps for self-defence.
Wathshlah (WAO) meanwhile ruffled a few feathers when she listed the discrimination of women in society to highlight the importance of advocacy work on gender issues in school. As gender issues are not commonly discussed in schools, her presentation was certainly enlightening.
The final speaker, Lim (MNS) shared facts on the natural wildlife in Malaysia and suggested ways for students to help prevent their extinction. Various programmes can be conducted by students to raise awareness and funds, she added, such as exhibitions, nature camps, workshops, producing advocacy materials (brochures and leaflets), drama performances and jumble sales.
The information received by students at the workshop could have been overwhelming, but as Lilac Ong, Head of Prepaid from Maxis, the organiser of the contest, reminded students, the most effective community service programme will be one that best matches their abilities and the community’s needs and interests.
For more information, visit the website at www.hotlink.com.my or call 1-300-820-120 (local charges apply) or Hariati at 03-79671388 ext 1009.