Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Asian Youth Ambassador (AYA) Dream Malaysia 2008 Awards

2 days ago, Sunday night, 9th November 2008 was the award night of Asian Youth Ambassador (AYA) Dream Malaysia Awards 2008. It was a fantastic occasion, seeing many hundreds of young Malaysians, who see themselves as united Malaysians. Definitely bring me a lot of hope, seeing how all these people are. - The Worldwide Malaysian Students Network did not win the coveted AYA Dream Malaysia Awards, but it is still a great exposure. Good to see both our founders - Syamsul Hasran and Mohd Yusuf came down all the way from Penang for it!

For the Youth Friendly Company of the Year 2008, the winner is Smash . It was founded by 3 friends, aiming to build something with a lasting impact. SMASH strives to provide the youths a better alternative to smoking, clubbing, "Mat Rempit" activities, drugs etc. This non-profit-focused hybrid dance and martial arts studio believes in changing the world one youth at a time.

For the 2 runner-ups for this category, they are Life College and Spices .

Life College was not driven by profits, but was birthed out of the desire to see young people's lives transformed through education. They see young people as the future leaders and are committed to develop their minds, skills, emotional strength and character, through the day-to-day classes, camps and talks. They aim to equip the students for life, not just academically. Life College also exhibits her compassion by offering scholarships to orphans and single-parent students, as well as partnering with Beautiful Gates to offer financial aids to the disabled.

SPICES (Support for Parents, Infants and Children through Early Services) was founded by the late Mabel Tan in year 1997, convinced that the solution to help children effectively was by playing purposeful attention to children with special needs, as these were the ones who were often neglected by the community. Since then, SPICES has been providing education to children with special needs - most of them are challenged with learning disabilities - across races, religions and cultures throughout Malaysia.

And both - The Worldwide Malaysian Students Network and ARTS-ED made up the remaining 2 finalists., is the Worldwide Malaysian Students Network, founded by Syamsul Hasran and Mohd Yusuf Abdul Hamid in year 2003. emerged out of a dream to contribute to Malaysian students. Creating a platform for a community of students to exchange ideas and experiences in students-related issues, many have benefitted with regards to their scholarships applications, through useful tips and tricks and the various connections buildt with campuses overseas.

ARTS-ED or better known as Anak-Anak Kota, is a community-based arts and heritage program that seeks to explore and provides innovative and non-formal arts and heritage education for young people through collaboration with local and regional arts educators, artists and local communities via visual arts, drama, music, video etc to interpret their notion of heritage. Noted to bridge the young people with the local wisdom for the past 8 years and running, ARTS-ED provides free education and recruits students through schools, colleges and universities.

It is very touching to hear all those award winners to dedicate all the awards to all those nominated. It was a very friendly competition, where everyone is celebrated for their contribution to community. It is interesting to see how everyone is so passionate to give back to community. To me, that kind of spirit is definitely laudable. That's the spirit of AYA Dream Malaysia 2008.

The other award given is the prestigious Most Outstanding Youth of the Year 2008.

The winner is Dhinu Dhanveer Singh, a 24-year-old guy, who was brought up in a family that's on-the-go, he has traveled to various countries, which include Papua New Guinea and Cambodia to build and sow into the local community. Serving as co-founder of a youth-run non-profit organization - SOLS24/7, he provides life skills education to the poor and disadvantaged young lives in these areas. A social worker wokring in East Timor and Cambodia and through sacrificial living that involved the trading of personal possessions, he strives to improve the quality of life and education through means of providing free education, which includes teaching the English Language to the rural folk.

The 1st runner up is Nyanamambiga A/P Ugjayan, a 23-year-old, who was the oldest of 3 children. She sought to help with the financial burden in her family by offering tuition classes, despite being physically challenged and stricken with muscular dystrophy. Putting her passion into action, she also makes a side-income from her arts and crafts. Currently studying in College MCS (Moral Competent Success) for a Diploma in Office Administration, she dreams to pursue her passion for art in Germany and opens an art gallery to provide a better life for her family.

The 2nd runner up is Indrani a/p Kopal, a 29-year-old. She was raised in the city of Kuala Lumpur and the eldest of 4 siblings. She has been afflicted with a hormonal imbalnace in her system that resulted in hair loss since she hit puberty. Despite having a poor self-image, she presevered and gained her confidence through the art of dancing and the inspiration of her dance teacher. Now, an award-winning video journalist famed for She's My Son, she seeks to abolish slavery and strives to improve the social and living standards by capturing the heart of the destitute and bringing these issues to light.

The other 4 equally high credential candidates include:-

Anisa Nishat binti Mohamed Ismail, a 23-year-old, who was born and bred in Malaysia. She grew up with her eyes wide open to the polarization in the local community. Completing her studies overseas and as the former President of the South Asian Students Association, she worked closely with various student associations and was awarded the prestigious Carlton Savage Award by American University in Washington for her contributiong towards intercultural understanding. Since returning home, she is now pursuing a career and is working towards promoting racial harmony and advocating the spirit of excellence in Malaysia.

Michael Teoh Su Lim, a 21-year-old from a small town boy from Penang, who was ridiculed and rejected in school for being weak. He presevered through the odds that were against him - winning and representing the country in 2 international competitions. Currently pursuing a major in Marketing and International Business in Auckland University of Technology (AUT), New Zealand, he raises the Malaysian flag proudly being hand-picked to the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Business Conference. Aside from topping the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) competition twice, he continues impacting the lives of many through global youth and leadership conferences and community projects.

Prakash a/l Suriyamurthy, a 26-year-old, who came from an average family background and suffered from visual impairment. He struggled to secure a job and was turned down on countless occasions. A gifted translater renown translating the Indian epic, Thirukulai, and a couple of psychology textbooks written in Tamil by Dr. Kadir Ibrahim into Braille, it was evident that he didn't allow these circumstances to deter him from setting his sights on a brighter future. With a Bachelor of Malay Studies from Universiti Malaya under his belt, currently he is studying Masters of Translation at Universiti Malaya and a member of Malaysia Institute of Translation. He dreams to learn and translate in international languages, ultimately run his own translation agency.

Ummul Khairiyah binti Abdul Rahman, a 21-year-old, who was born and raised locally. She defied the norm by stepping out to work at the early age of 18. Despite objection and denunciation of family and friends, she remained focused and at a young age of 19, she began earning a 5-figure salary and even establishing her own company "Innovate Smart" - selling marketing strategies. Currently an undergraduate at MMU pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Accountancy, she actively promotes entrepreneurship through SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) while juggling her job. She also teaches at AMPAC(Az-Zahrah Multi-Intelligence Academy), impacting and inspiring many young people to pursue nd achieve their dreams.

After reading all these outstanding youth, I would say that we should definitely give full credits to the organizing team from AYA for bringing this event to fruitation. As what Kenneth Chin, Organizing Chairman and Founder of Asian Youth Ambassador, AYA hoped to have tall Malaysians with big hearts. As Malaysia moves forward in knowledge and technology, their hope and mission is that we will also move backwards to the days when we did not judge each other by our race, religion or skin colour.

To all Malaysians, lets unite for a better Malaysia! "Bersatu Teguh, Bercerai Roboh!".

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Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

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