HAVING our Internet connection cut off during an important meeting or the climax of a movie may only be rare occurrences for us but for others, it is a privilege just to be able to go online.
Recently, we had a chat with Nina, a 10-year-old girl who lives with her parents and two older siblings in Selangor.
All three children have switched to online school during the Covid-19 pandemic but there is one problem: they can’t afford to pay for Internet access.
This situation has become a familiar nightmare to many underprivileged families across the country.
Malaysia has recorded over two million Covid-19 cases and we are continuing to see a surge of at least 15,000 new cases daily.
This has left many underprivileged students at an unceasing disadvantage as they lack access to continual online education.
Many of these families are facing huge difficulties paying for basic food and housing, as it is.
“Because of my poor Internet connectivity, I can’t hear what my teachers are saying, so it’s hard for me to follow,” said Nina.
“Due to our Internet issues, our Google Meet calls get frozen a lot. This causes Nina to get disconnected from her lessons,” her mother added.
Colour Away Covid, a student-led initiative by secondary school and university students in Hong Kong and Malaysia, has a solution, but we need your help.
We have recently launched our third fundraising campaign called “Dear Malaysia”, as part of a collaborative effort with Dignity for Children Foundation and Yayasan Chow Kit.
We aim to raise RM150,000, which will be used to provide Internet access, as well as education and rent support, to families in need.
As we also aim to ease the growing issue of mental health during the pandemic, our campaign has a strong focus on strengthening human connection.
Donors are encouraged to write a letter to the children receiving support, and the children will reply with personalised letters to the donors.
Being part of this initiative has opened our eyes to the struggles that many students have faced due to the pandemic.
When almost everything is done online – be it school, work, social interaction or entertainment – it is almost impossible to not use the Internet even for a day.
As students, we feel extremely annoyed whenever we lose our Internet connection, knowing that we are missing a part of our online lessons.
Having access to education has made us more grounded and propelled us to greater opportunities, steering us towards an advantageous direction in life.That students just like us lack access to a stable Internet connection every day is simply unacceptable. One can only imagine the frustrations they have had to put up with on a daily basis.
What makes Colour Away Covid special is its focus on education rather than food drives. Many organisations specialise in providing food for all during this pandemic, yet few focus on an equally important issue: education.
If you are unable to make monetary donations, do help share our fundraising effort with your network.
For us, RM50 may be the difference between eating dinner at a restaurant and eating at home. But for these children, it is access to a basic human right.
Education is not a privilege; it is a right, and it must be accessible to every child. Please help us achieve this.
To donate to our fundraising campaign by Oct 1, go to the Give.Asia/Donation page at https://give.asia/colour-away-covid-dear-malaysia.
Founded in Hong Kong last year, Colour Away Covid aims to help low-income families and underprivileged children cope with the disruptions wrought by the pandemic.
We have raised over HKD120,000 (RM63,866) to produce over 65,000 masks to low-income families in Hong Kong and Malaysia. We have also collaborated with Hong Kong charity Kids4Kids to send 3,000 postcards written by students and the public to frontline workers in 19 hospitals in the island.
Alyssa, 17, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. For more information, go to facebook.com/niebrats.