WHAT started off as an act of kindness turned into Nur Farhana Nadirah Hassan’s pet project that is set to create a positive impact on communities in need.
Titled “The Tohor Revolution”, the 25-year-old finance graduate’s community-based project won the inaugural MyAsean Youth Award (MAYA).
Held by Talent Corp Malaysia Bhd (TalentCorp) and the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti), the award offered a RM10,000 grant to implement the winner’s community-focused social project.
Participants who were MyAsean Internship Programme alumni or interns had to submit a short business plan and promotional video conceptualising top-line ideas on the proposed project and how it would positively impact a chosen community.
MAYA is also held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Asean’s formation as well as to promote the spirit of volunteerism among Asean youth.
Nur Farhana Nadirah was one out of three finalists who pitched their ideas to MAYA judges — TalentCorp chief executive officer Shareen Shariza Abdul Ghani, Leaderonomics chief executive officer Roshan Thiran, and Miti secretary-general Datuk Seri J Jayasiri.
Her project emphasised on improving the lives of orang asli at Kampung Tohor, Negri Sembilan.
She said the project has a “highly adaptable” framework consisting of three key areas, including education, health and economy.
“When the framework is adapted onto any targeted communities, its concerns will be observed and analysed.
“We will then determine the most worrying concerns and gauge how to solve it based on our ability,” said the student who is currently pursuing her Master’s in Finance.
She added the framework allowed tailored solutions for the community to be made, which can reduce resource wastage and maximise impact to the community.
Nur Farhana Nadirah first took part in a voluntarism programme in 2011, to help the villagers in Kampung Tohor, but noticed activities she and her team conducted did not have a lasting impact on orang asli.
Over the years, her framework started working its magic and has begun to change the lives of the villagers there.
“There is one of them who will be sitting for the SPM this year,” she said.
“This project changed me. When I was engaged in other community services projects, I had the mindset that they needed me. But in Tohor, I have a sense that I need them. I need these sincere and pure people to be with me, in developing the country,” she said.
The MyAsean Internship programme alumni said MAYA was a good avenue to bring forward ideas as well as changes they want to do in a community.
“This sort of competition tests and challenge credibility and sustainability of an idea. When you have a challenge you will tend to come up with a better solution,” said Nur Farhana Nadirah, adding she was excited with the win.
Despite missing out on the RM10,000 grant, fellow finalists Liang Jian Zhang, 25 and Christina Chan Sook Yuen, 24, who were also MyAsean Internship programme alumni remained optimistic and thankful for the learning opportunity.
Liang said the competition was good exposure, which allowed him to interact with notable individuals from the government and corporate sector.
“It was also a good learning experience as it allowed me to pitch my idea to very experienced people,” said the international ecnomics graduate, whose community project focused on developing students’ leadership skills.
He added the challenging questions posed by the judges pushed him to further improve and tweak his ideas on the project.
Chan, who has a fear of public speaking, said she felt nervous and was shaking throughout the presentation.
“However, I tried my best. I got an opportunity to try and learn something new and I appreciate it.
“I also got to speak to many corporate personalities who were willing to help work on the project,” added the final year law student.
Her community project focused on bridging the gap between mentors and mentees.
Shareen Shariza said the quality of talent and ideas were satisfactory for this first round.
“The way they pitched their ideas was good. We want to see them apply their projects in an Asean context,” she said.
She pointed out that students will greatly benefit from joining MAYA as it gives them chance to use innovative solutions to create positive projects.
“We create a platform for them to make a difference based what they are really interested and passionate about. This is part of our strategy to bring youth to think globally,” she said, adding that Miti has been a supportive partner.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who was present at MAYA 2017, commended TalentCorp on its efforts to produce “globalised” citizens.
He said the MyAsean Internship programme - which he launched in 2015 - and MyAsean Youth Award 2017 are important and a good investment for the country’s future as it enables students to interact with people from different countries and multiracial backgrounds.
“What distinguishes students from one another is how articulate, sociable and personable they are,” he said, noting that academics is an important factor as well.