Small actions making big impact

Start them young: Farah Iman talking to participants at a Seeds of Deeds camp in Selangor.

PETALING JAYA: A small contribution can make a big difference. That is the philosophy behind Small Changes, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which seeks to empower Malaysians to do good.

Co-founder Aliaa Marizan started the organisation with a few friends 12 years ago with the aim to encourage people to do acts of kindness towards others, no matter how small their gesture may seem.

“A lot of people want to do good, to be useful and to change the world.

“But sometimes they feel overwhelmed because when they want to start something, it (the task) feels ginormous and they may feel like giving up.

“What we do is we give a platform for people to do good in their own way, to do any small deed that they can do, ” said Aliaa, 34.

The movement first started when she and several friends volunteered at a motivational camp in a school in Johor, where each one offered whatever help they could give.

“Some of us offered cars to transport us there, some of us had the teaching ability, some of us had connections with teachers in that particular school.

“So we used whatever resources we had during that time to make things happen, ” she said.

Fast-forward to more than a decade later, the NGO has expanded to have its own management team and about 100 volunteers, not including those who are recruited on an ad hoc project basis.

Small Changes’ heart and principle remain unchanged, however.

Aliaa, who now plays a more advisory role in the organisation and works full time running a manufacturing company, said Small Changes still run small-scale projects with “reachable but impactful” goals.

For instance, the organisation has its “FundRangers”, who are individuals who post up challenges or tasks they would accomplish, such as running a marathon, in order to raise funds for causes.

“Any small good thing that you do can lead to bigger and better differences in other people’s life, ” she said.

However, she said that Small Changes’ main goal was to reduce educational inequality.

Thus, it organises a number of major events throughout the year to address the issue.

Small Changes president Farah Iman Muhd Najib said it ran the Seeds of Deeds motivational camps, where they hold motivational and educational modules for secondary school students.

“Every year, we would go to two to three states and run a camp that brings together about 100 students from different schools.

“We have modules that are more lesson-based, such as focusing on English speaking, writing and reading.

“But we also have modules related to boosting their self-confidence, planning their future, and educating them on what their (career) options are, ” she said.

She added that the NGO also worked with a school for refugees to run courses on entrepreneurship skills under its Aspire to Inspire programme.

The Covid-19 crisis had caused many of their events to be put on hold, but the NGO will not stop its volunteering efforts.

“Everyone in the team came in (this year) with a vision that we’re going to be able to execute all our projects, but now everything has been put on hold.

“However, at the beginning of the movement control order, we were trying to focus on fundraising, such as helping families of needy students.

“We also have online initiatives, such as ‘FriDates with SC’, where we invite speakers to share their skills with our followers on Instagram, ” Farah Iman said.

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