Never too young to help

Change agent: Tanusya managed to raise funds to buy 10 laptops for underprivileged students.

THE will to see every child have equal access to education drove a 13-year-old to start an initiative to purchase laptops for underprivileged students so that they do not fall behind as school lessons remain online.

Tanusya Manimuttu, a spunky teenager from SMK Damansara Utama in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, started the “laptop for learning” initiative after noticing that some of her friends were struggling to study without the device.

“Every child should get equal access to education.

“I came up with this initiative with an aim to reduce digital poverty and exclusion within my capacity,” she told StarEdu.

“Not forgetting that for nearly two years, competitions and co-curricular activities have been conducted virtually, leaving many underprivileged children further behind in these activities,” she said.

The idea came to her in June. After brainstorming with her parents, they began the charity drive in July.

She carried out the initiative together with three other youths – Rex Lee Hint and Jhoshvaan Sree Gopi, both aged 10, and Phaevian David, 13 – and her mother Puan Sri Thevi Marimuthu, who managed the finances and procurement.

They approached a shelter home, an ustaz at a boarding school and authorities at two national schools to identify the recipients.

“We got the support of the teachers and the associates to select students who wanted to pursue their studies but had no access,” she shared.

The team then flooded their social media platforms and their contacts’ inboxes with information about their drive and the response, said Tanusya, was overwhelming.

Their mission, now over, saw them raise RM6,930 within their targeted two weeks to buy 10 laptops for underprivileged students.

The laptops came installed with Microsoft software to make it easy for the students to use, complete with a mouse and a bag.

The team personally delivered the laptops after obtaining approvals from relevant parties, strictly abiding by the standard operating procedures as the activity was carried out during the movement control order period.Tanusya said running the project was tiring initially.

“I needed to update the volunteers on the progress, host meetings, coordinate with many donors, and update the accounting file by keeping track of the funds received, among others.

“But I realised that this was my first big charity project and it will take time for me to learn to be more independent in the future,” she added.

Tanusya, who considers herself a “social issues advocate”, is actively involved in co-curricular activities, having received numerous awards for public speaking, storytelling and dancing.

Her desire to “change the world” began when she joined the Girl Guides at the age of nine.

Their tagline “We are not too young to make a change” has stuck with her ever since, leading to her actively taking part in various charity events and volunteerism.

“We are never too young to help people in need,” she affirmed, adding that volunteering is fun.

Next on the agenda for Tanusya and her team is providing laptops to needy students.

They also plan to start a new project that aims to help families living in poverty eat more healthily.

She advised other youths who want to do good for society to “just give it a shot”.

“You can always start small. Reach out and influence your friends, family and people within your circle, and slowly double down on the efforts.

“Let’s be change agents and drive change for a better tomorrow.”

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