A Paper Affair.

This is a post about my recent research on paper making and how it affects our Earth. We all know that it’s good to reduce paper usage and if you do, make sure you shred it and voila your duty is done. But this post will be more than just these two simple steps. It all started when I had to use papers during my internship. Back then I was doing a lot of company credit rating research so I had to read pages and pages of companies’ annual reports for my credit rating reports. It’s all finance stuff so if you’re not into finance, let’s just say that I had to read and research a lot. It gets tiring sometimes to continuously read reports on your laptop and makes it slightly difficult to discuss with your colleagues when you don’t have the printed copy. So, torn between wanting to reduce paper usage and getting the job done, I decided to print. Not all , though. The feeling still bugged me about reducing paper usage. Then I proceeded to the shredding machine where I make sure all my papers get shredded and not thrown into the rubbish bins. But it occurred to me, what happens then after I shred the paper? Will it help with the environment and where does all this shredded paper go?

At that time, it was just a thought which I forgot about later on. Then earlier this year, I had my final examinations and I printed some of my slides. I usually just use my tablet to learn but realized that I end up writing everything back while studying (not so efficient and very time consuming and I waste paper as well). So while printing them, the same thought occurred to me and I got a little distracted and frustrated with the amount of papers I used. I came home and with all the free time I had, I started reading up on the paper industry. I did my research and to be honest, it took me awhile before I came up with this post because I wasn’t sure about so many things with the industry. And this is what I found out from all the readings I did. It may not be complete with all the information about pulp and paper industry and this is a summarized/simplified version based on my understanding so if you are interested on this topic, you can definitely do a further reading.

papermaking

http://www.brdisolutions.com/what-is-the-paper-converting-industry

The diagram above is a clear process of how paper industry works and what is done when you recycle your paper. Starting with the collection of wood, following the brown arrow that leads to paper making which then is distributed out before going back to the industry as a recycled product. It’s pretty much straight forward and looks sustainable with very little environmental problems. That was what I thought when I first did my research. But if you look again at the process, these are some of the issues concerning the paper industry:

Cutting down of trees; the consequences of it. When you cut down trees, not just one of two trees but hundreds of them for paper production you not only disrupt the natural habitat for wildlife but also may cause soil erosion and contribute towards global warming. It may seem like a simple problem where you can solve by planting new trees to replace the ones you cut but it’s not. That’s the thing about natural resources and environmental problems, they’re all interconnected and you have to look at the bigger picture to connect the dots. The disruption of ecosystem can cause permanent effect to the wildlife and also may lead to extinction of some species. It’s not like as if a forest can be built within two weeks so should we be cutting down trees without waiting for trees to grow first ? The dilemma is always there. In fact, 40% of industrial wood is traded globally and this means that its not just a one country’s affair. People trade wood for production of paper, among other usage of wood. We cannot replenish the forest before cutting them down again at the rate we are consuming it. The question is, how do you shift the wildlife to a new habitat before cutting down the trees ? How do you counter back the issue with soil erosion ? At the rate we’re going, we’ll probably clear out all the forest and left with no more trees to harvest.

This is where the recycling part comes in. In today’s paper industry, there are two types of pulp used; virgin and recycled fibre. Recycled fibre is used in the paper production so that we can reduce the intake of virgin fibre which is a product made from the trees we cut down. So if you’re wondering what’s the purpose of shredding your paper, this is it. The shredded paper will go through a few process before turning back into pulp that is then used again for paper making.

sustainability-mobile-map stora enso paper

http://printingandreading.storaenso.com/sustainability

Chemicals and water pollution. The process of paper making, whether using virgin fibre or recycled fibre uses chemical and other materials. Transforming the wood to pulp usually involves cooking the wood chips in a chemical solution. Chemicals used, from what I read are often sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide. After that, fillers are added such as chalk, clay, starch or titanium oxide. The materials vary based on the type of product produced and the company’s methods. Even with recycling paper, you have to remove the ink which involves bleaches or dyes then convert them back into pulps that can be rolled to papers or other products. This will lead to water pollution, no doubt. It is not easy to separate chemical solutions from the water again and it’ll eventually flow into the ocean, disrupting the aquatic ecosystem and also affecting the soil. In fact, based on research done, pulp and paper industry is one of the largest consumer of water used in industrial activities. There was an article by WWF about this industry and how it’s affecting the environment in more than just one way. It also said that paper mills discharge pollutants and this will lead to aquatic problems as well as health issues. Let’s not forget that we humans consume water too on daily basis and with all the pollution, the water needs to be treated first before it’s safe for us to consume. This adds to the social cost and consumer will have to bear the additional costs.

Apart from the obvious environmental issues I stated above, there are other concerns too such as illegal harvesting, regulations, irresponsible practices in the industry etc etc. There have also been development on producing paper using other resources as many people are becoming more aware of the issues in this industry. I found this while doing my research and it’s a really good website, do check it out !

zero-waste-cycle the poo project

http://thepooproject.ourproject.org/index.php?slab=about

The development of creating a sustainable environment is a continuous effort and requires lots of researches. But even the little things, if we are able to do it we should. Here are some suggestions on how to help:

  • Shred them papers ! If you don’t own a shredder, recycle them at the recycling centre. You can google the nearest recycling centre, I’m sure there’s one in each area. Don’t forget to remove paper clips or other non-paper materials before you recycle.
  • If you can avoid using paper, why not? Save you some pocket money too!
  • Responsible sourcing and trade of paper products. Know the brands you choose and choose a responsible one.
  • Ask for transparency in the sector, exercise your rights as a consumer! If you have questions about the brands you use, why not drop them an email for clarification?

Let’s not forget that wood is used for more than just paper. It’s also used to create furniture, construction of buildings and many other products. If we cannot avoid using those products, the least we could do is use it wisely and not practice irresponsible consumption. Remember, when you buy something, the company will have to produce more to replenish their stock. This means higher demand for wood and therefore, more trees being cut down. Not all products from wood can be recycled and reused as raw ingredient. If you buy just to realize later on that you have no use for it and end up throwing it away, that too can contribute to various environmental problems. Let’s together be a responsible consumer 🙂

It’s the little things that matters, the little effort that will bring changes to the world.

Join me?

Degree done and dusted, now what ?

Time to read more ! (read as: sleep). On a serious note, I’ve been reading and researching on environment management in Malaysia since I came back and found lots of interesting changes that’s happening in our beloved country.

From where I live, which is quite near to the capital city I’ve seen many changes regarding environmental awareness compared to when I was young. More shops and malls are adopting the no plastic bag regulation and a fee is charged for plastic bags to discourage customers from using plastic bags. We are also slowly moving towards renewable energy, in particular installing solar panels at homes and in buildings. I’ve had the opportunity recently to watch a video of our nation’s energy supplier, TNB on their vision and future direction. I must say that the direction our energy industry is moving towards do seem to be promising in regards to our efforts in practicing sustainable development. Putting aside corporate businesses, I’ve also seen changes among our citizens. With the new and upgraded public transportation system, more and more of our citizens are using the public transport and utilizing the facilities available instead of using their own transport. I have no doubts that the public transportation system have a lot to do still especially in terms of making it accessible for people living far away from the train stations. I believe the bus routes and system too has to be upgraded to make this possible. Nonetheless, it is good to see that we are developing in the right direction to encourage energy conservation and reduction in pollution. Being in the capital, I am accustomed to our famous daily traffic jams that can usually go on for hours. This, again calls for efforts to reduce the usage of cars as mean of transportation in the city. I would love to make bicycle as an option but to be honest, I will probably think twice (or maybe more) about riding a bicycle to go for meeting at 3 in the afternoon. The sun here in Malaysia is unbelievable! It’s summer all year long and if it isn’t shinning bright, it’ll be raining so heavily. Therefore, although I love the concept of bicycle as a mode of transportation similar to the practice of other countries, I must say that we must be realistic. I doubt I want to arrive for a meeting looking all sweaty and extra shiny face with melted make ups, might scare people away instead. But with the new strategy brought in by Uber and Grabcar, we are an app away from having a car at our disposal. The problem with our usual taxis is that it did have issues with accessibility. Not all areas have taxis waiting around for us, especially in the housing area. Then we also have the issue of taxi with metres and without which creates a negative impression on the taxi provider. If these issues could be solved and the level of efficiency is up to the standards set by Uber and Grabcar, then I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be just as good. The only worry is that in terms of regulation especially safety and insurance coverage, Uber and Grabcar in Malaysia still need to work on that to eliminate the loopholes. This way, we can promote carpooling, reduce the amount of cars entering the city, pay unbelievable parking tickets, save more energy and create jobs for people!

There are so much positive changes in Malaysia and I am happy to see our country moving towards a green and sustainable direction. Having said that, there is still a lot that has to be done too. From the different articles I’ve read, I came to an understanding that:

Development also equal to greater environment problems 

This means that we will face issues such as deforestation, increase in pollution, lost of habitat for our nature and if we are not careful contributing in extinction of exotic species. The amount of carbon emission, water and air pollution that is caused by development can affect in ways that will bring harm to people’s health. Mentioned above are only part of the negative impact of development towards our environment. While there are methods to reduce issues as stated above, implementation and awareness is necessary to ensure that all parties are highly aware of the possible consequences of their actions. This does not mean that I am against developing the country, as I am well aware that we need to boost our economy more now than ever. We also can’t run away from being the cause of environmental issues because we live based on the resources we have in our country and on the land that we step. However, I do believe that modernization and development has to be done right with more weight on ensuring sustainability of resources rather than just concentrating on profit making for the economy. We need to start thinking for the long term effects and stop making short term profit at others’ expense. To do that, more work has to be done on the regulation and law as well as the proper steps for implementation. Above all this, education which I continuously mention in most of my post is so important to tackle this problem. Because it is an issue that deals with lifestyle, it can only be changed with a change in our lifestyle. This might mean changing certain things that we are so used to, probably even practices we were brought up with. But change is necessary and is a must. It’s not easy as I admit that I’m also trying to find ways to reduce my contribution towards pollution but we have to put in the effort.

We know that education is crucial in this matter. So what do we do now ? We educate ourselves. Which is why I came across this idea and I would love to work with as many people as possible on these ideas:

  • Create animated videos about different topics on environment and eco-friendly development, sustainability, eco changes in lifestyle etc etc
  • Illustrative short comic strips, short stories that can be downloaded and accessed by everyone digitally

They are just rough ideas at the moment and still need to be further developed. I know I am not well educated in all aspects of this issue especially providing information and facts therefore I would love to hear from people with different education background and skills. To make this idea happen, I also believe I do need some guidance by people who have knowledge in animated video making and animation drawing. Not exactly a talented artist you see. Let me know what you think about it and please please I do value your feedback so don’t be shy wherever you are especially to my fellow Malaysians! Let’s make these little things that we can do to bring change.

3 years in a post.

So, I know I’ve blogged about graduation but that was an emotional, rushed post using my phone , typing away in a hotel when I had a short break in between my duty as a tourist guide for my brother in London the other day. Now I’m back home in Malaysia, I’m probably going to be home for good unless I decide to work elsewhere in a few years. Nothing though beats the feeling of being back home, a place where you belong and welcomed anytime. Thankful that I have a home to come back to, can only imagine how lonely that there are some out there who are less fortunate. Anyway, got reunited with my laptop and desk so I’ll be continuing my previous post about university and a reflection of what these 3 years taught me.

For me, university life was a turning point where I learned so much, being alone far away from home and all that. I went to the UK with minimal fear as I had a partner and it’s always less scary when you’re leaving your comfort zone knowing that you’ve got somebody with you. During my first year, I was staying in an accommodation that was thirty minutes away from the campus and the area was still undergoing development so buses were not frequent. I walked almost every day and missed probably most of my 9 am lectures trying to adjust to the late bus timing and fast walking pace. Because I was far from my other Malaysian friends, I wanted more activities to be done among the Malaysian society. It was the beginning of my involvement with the Malaysian society and how I discovered my passion for fundraising. The accommodation I stayed was called The Maltings and I lived in block D, level 5 room 5 along with 5 other international housemates. We not only shared a kitchen but also shared memories together. I would usually take bus no. 61 as that is the only bus that pass through the accommodation and occassionally will buy doner kebab from the shop nearby called Albany Gardens Kebab Fish n Chips. I never liked lamb meat, it always tasted off to me but when I was in the UK, I learned how to eat it and most of the time it’ll be with rice dipped with lots of garlic mayo to kill the meat taste. It was my first year in university that I learned how to write a manifesto. Thanks to the vice president at that time who also became cultural convener and VP International later on, I got the fundraising position as part of the Malaysian society team. She taught me a lot about taking up opportunities available and even create them if it isn’t already available. Many friends have inspired me to do better in life and I’m not one that compares success but I get motivated in pursuing my own passion when I see others being passionate about theirs. So in my first year, I applied for my first job with the Students Union Finance Team as a finance assistant but got turned down because I did not fully prepared myself for the interview. I told myself that it was a good interview experience and that I shouldn’t be too bumped by it as it happens all the time in life. So I focused on whatever that was lacking, got feedback and advices on how I can improve myself during interview sessions and took notes during the Big Essex Award workshops. In spring term I then came across a frontrunner placement with the International Office. I decided to go for it and submitted my application form. The frontrunner scheme not only gave me a UK working experience but I was constantly learning new things as attending workshops was part of the placement programme. I started the frontrunner scheme when I was in my second year, throughout autumn and spring term. It was my first official job in the university and I was so pumped up about it. I also applied for the student ambassador role which I thankfully got in my second year.

Second year was a bit more organized for me. I settled in my new home which is the Tawney North Towers. Its relatively cheaper than Maltings and I could save so much from the rent. In my first year, rent was quite high and since I travelled to a few places – Cardiff, Snowdonia, Edinburgh, Glasgow, ZipWorld, Sardinia I almost had no savings left by the end of the term. So when the university offered me an accommodation with cheaper rent, I took it up without any hesitation. It was an accommodation with 11 other people in a flat and we all shared the kitchen. The plus point was that every week, my flat was the hub for fundraising preparation. Malaysians would gather to prepare food early in the morning and sometimes the night before which was really nice although tiring. Between 8 am to 3 pm on Wednesdays I would be busy running around with the team, making sure food was okay, sales done properly and everyone got their food orders. It was so funny to see random Malaysians coming down the stairs looking so basics ( me especially, in my pyjamas and sweater ) to refill hot food at the stall in Square 3. But everytime we managed to sell our food, it was the best feeling ever. It adds a smile when the locals tell us that they’ve been waiting for our food since morning or that they want the recipe because it tasted amazing. But the best feeling from our fundraising activities? It was seeing Malaysians meeting each other when they buy our food and hang out. Its when they come together and help prepare the food despite having lectures until late afternoon. You don’t always spend time with your Malaysian community because everyone has their own crowd and this was the time where we just catch up with everyone and ask if they’re doing okay. I had troubles waking up for 9 am classes but on Wednesdays, I didn’t mind at all having to wake up earlier and sleeping late the night before just so I could feel again the feeling of home in university. Of course I had to really plan my time because with 2 jobs on my plate and the fundraising position as well as my studies, I can’t really afford to be lazy. So I learned to prioritise. I spent less time exploring and streaming videos on weekends because I needed to catch up on the tutorials and sometimes even on weekends I would be working as student ambassador. The pay wasn’t too bad for both of my jobs and I enjoyed my work very much. It helped me pay for my Iceland expenses as well as my addiction to Japanese food (they’re so expensive in the UK! ). My Iceland trip was magical to be honest. I loved the atmosphere, the adventure and how calming everything was. I also went to Croatia and part of Bosnia for my spring trip in second year. Both places were just as beautiful. I enjoy travelling and going on adventures especially exploring the nature. My time in Grenoble was all about climbing mountains and walk pass scary bridges that swings when there is wind. Because of my packed schedule, I miss quite a lot of events in the UK but I never missed going to Nottingham Games, partly because a dear friend studied there. But I never really focused on anything else except what I already was focusing on. I also joined the SU pop up scheme, opened a Batik shop for 6 weeks as part of introducing Malaysian culture to the university. Then I came back during the summer and thought that it was time to do an internship. So I interned with Khazanah for 3 months, made friends throughout that short journey and learned quite a lot for an intern. The pay was also quite good. I enjoyed Friday mornings where the department will have breakfast together potluck style. It was also during that time, a few weeks after my birthday that I was not feeling the best. But putting that aside, things got better slowly with the adjustments I did. Friends were really helpful and them being there for me was all the support I needed.

My third year, I had an initial plan to simply focus on studies and life. But then I figured I had quite a lot of free time and I didn’t like having nothing to do. So I joined Kalsom as their fundraising officer, focused on my position in the Societies Guild as their charity and fundraising officer representative and applied for more jobs ! I think at one point I was addicted to work so I had to find a job. I ended up working with a start up company as their Outreach and Recruitment Officer which deals with a mixture of research and marketing. Together with another colleague, that was the first time I learned how to design a prospectus from scratch. It was a long process, from finding ideas what kind of information we want to put in the book to assembling it together with the design so that it fits the theme nicely and ensuring that its a book compact enough to fit all relevant information. My contract for that job was 12 weeks but I got offered to extend the contract. But knowing that I’ll be home in a few months and I needed the time to focus on my studies, I had to turn down the offer. I was also still working as a student ambassador but less frequent as I was focusing more on my voluntary positions. Third year was really nice in a way that I made new friends, visited friends during various events and learned about the many inspiring things that our fellow students around the world are working on. I also learned how to live on my own and care for myself (which I failed miserably at first but it got better) and it made me appreciate my alone time more than ever. I liked the feeling of coming home to my room, everything looks neat and waiting for me. Lighting up my candles after a long day of studying and work, catching up with dramas. I loved how busy life was but at the same time it was all mine as I had nothing else to worry when I was there except for myself. I didnt have to care for another or made sure that I left enough food before leaving the house to work. There were days that I was lonely and needed to talk to someone and thankfully my friends were there to listen to my emotional rants. I shared my happy moments and small success with my parents more often although they barely understand because they were not physically there with me. I tried doing new things, travelled to visit friends and enjoy the little moments where things were perfect. My room at Thomas Hopper Houses flat 3 room 4 was amazing. It was the perfect size for me, not too big and just right. I don’t really favor big spaces so the size was just perfect. I enjoyed going around the university and take random photos, knowing that I’ll be leaving soon. Sometimes I just stare at the people in the square, memorizing the atmosphere and feelings. The last few months of my final year, I studied really hard. I was afraid that I didnt have enough marks to pass but I did, thankfully. My study place to go would usually be my room where I’ll be holed up for more than 2 days before seeing the day again, the SU bar (just because I get my mocha and black coffee from the starbucks there) and sometimes the library as well as Orangery. I loved eating breakfast at the Canteen, they serve english breakfast and that’s where I learned how to eat baked beans. When I want food to go I would stop by at The Kitchen for my tuna melt panini, absolute favourite and on Thursdays I usually get pastries and cakes from the Thursday market. I loved the lamb kofta at Fusion and the chicken wrap in Frangos, absolutelt delicious especially with cheese and mushrooms as extras. I dont really fancy the burgers in Happy Days but I go there for the waffles.

Most of the time when I’m not having my alone time, working, studying or travelling I would be at Keynes North Towers penthouse where 2 of my lovely friends lived. The four of us would hang out in the living hall, do our own thing and rant at each other in between breaks. I usually have my meals there too because I hardly cook. Then sometimes I would invite my other friend who’s a walking inspiration over a meal when I feel like cooking proper food. Cooking with housemate and best friend was done sometimes when we have free time. After exams was over, it was time for Ramadhan and this was the first year I welcomed Ramadhan away from home. I had my first tarawih with the important people in my life and couldnt have done it any differently. There were a few sad news this year but I am ever grateful for all the little things in life. I came back over the sunmer and went back for a week to attend my graduation. Alhamdulillah your girl got a first class honours in her degree and she was so thankful that she managed to pull through her degree life. This year taught me a lot and several events in life got me leaning closer and closer towards the Almighty. I cried and asked for help from the One that could make the impossible possible. I didn’t cry anymore having no anchor in my life because I now know that the anchor I was desperately looking for lies in His answers.

Degree life taught me so much but it is not the end of me learning as we all continuously learn in life. I can’t tell what the future holds but at least I know now that I won’t back down easily anymore. I came out stronger and wiser ( insyaAllah ) and I hope that with the knowledge and lessons I’ve gained during my degree years, it’ll help me be wiser in facing my future aspirations.

So this is it, my super long post ( probably the longest ) about my degree. You can’t rewind your degree life so the best you can do is to remember every memory , every detail and this is what I’m doing by typing it here.

Grad ? *gasp

So yesterday, your girl finally graduated with honours in Accounting and Finance. Yes, graduated although I’m still having a hard time digesting the fact that I’ve completed my tertiary education. When I got my result, the initial reaction was just a mere ‘oh yay’ and I felt mostly relief. I wasn’t really excited about the graduation ceremony because I was already back home and the lazy side of me was being lazy about going back for graduation. But I am so so happy that I decided to attend the ceremony because it was such a beautiful moment. I get to see students like me graduating and being celebrated by their loved ones, the atmosphere at university was really amazing and cheerful it gave me instant dose of happiness. I went for my graduation, took my certificate and when I went back to the accommodation only I had time to see my certificate. Okay, no kidding but when I saw my cert I teared a bit. It’s overwhelming but a mixed feelings of every other emotions. I know I’m not describing it well but I want to pour this thought although I am super sleepy and having difficulties to form the right sentences.

3 years in the UK, a single piece of paper but it is a paper that means so much to me. I almost cried thinking the fact that I got through it all despite having part time jobs and voluntary positions during the term. All those nights, those sleepless nights where I couldn’t even afford to sleep because the moment I lie on the bed I start to worry if I’ve studied enough and end up waking up again to study until morning. Every day was a constant mix of worry and pushing myself to study as much as I can because I can’t afford to waste time (that typical last minute revision). The past 3 years was amazing but I was handling a lot more during my final year. I enjoy working so I gave the internship scheme a shot, preparing my interview the night before with few hours of sleep. Learned a lot through my voluntary positions which is always exciting and challenging. I was also travelling a lot during my final year and in between prepared for work interviews.

I have to admit that some days I don’t take good care of myself. Some days I hole up in the room, do my thing and just shut myself from the world. And then there were days that my body just decided to stop functioning on its own because its reached the maximum stress level. Final year was so meaningful because I went through it alone for the first time in my 3 years of degree. I had friends obviously but I was focusing more on myself this year. I realised that self growth is personal and we can’t really drag people with us if we want to grow. So much of the experiences I went through this year taught me about maturity, emotions and most importantly responsibilities. I realised that loving someone doesn’t mean you have to be with them all the time. You gotta let your partner grow at their own pace too. And that nobody is perfect. A good laugh on rainy days are always the best medicine to cure heartache. Apples are the food to go when you’re sick. Black coffee will give you the strength to stay awake and focus. If you’re stressed, take some time off and do what you like. No way you’ll be productive if you sit in your room for days without seeing the sunlight. Exercising helps with the stress, a lot. Surround yourself with people that constantly challenge themselves. You’ll automatically be motivated to explore your own potentials. Eat your instant noodles with veggies and protein (so you can tell yourself that it’s not exactly unhealthy). This one is important – you don’t need to have many friends and be likeable by everyone. You just need a few that truly understand and matters to you. It’s always easier to be nice to people. Take random videos of moments spent with friends and family, they will be precious to you. Explore the world ! Can’t stress that enough. Always find excuse to learn new things and listen to others before forming your own opinions.

Then there is this one lesson – never ever look down on yourself. It’s fine to be in doubt but don’t sell yourself short. You are a precious human being, well loved by God and every day is a new day for you to improve yourself. Never let people make you feel small and weak to the point that it destroys yourself.

Final year was one important year to me. It taught me so much, made me understand a lot and realise the greatness of His power. It taught me to be consistent in my efforts and to always pray that my efforts will be rewarded. It was a year, but so much more than just another year.

That’s what that single certificate mean to me. I have no idea what lies ahead but I am thankful and blessed with all the years that was given to me and the lessons learned while I was abroad.

If this don’t make sense I’m sorry because this is me typing while I’m half asleep. I just wanted to type down this feelings so that I’ll never forget what graduation did to my emotions. And here’s to a new phase in life, meeting new inspiring people and bringing change to the world every day.

say no to bullying.

Malaysia mourns once again as another child lost his life due to bullying and abuse. Nhaveen, an 18 year old student from Penang had serious injuries including burns on his back and there were signs that a blunt object was shoved into his anus. His friend who was with Nhaveen at that moment, went through a surgery as he fractured his bone beneath the eye. According to the news, this was done by five youths who were also their ex-schoolmates. Not long ago, Malaysians were shocked to discover news about the death of a university student due to abuse as well. The student who was a naval cadet in National Defense University of Malaysia tragically lost his life due to torturing by his colleagues. He suffered severe injuries including second and third degree burns on 80% of his body. No excuse is acceptable for both incident which is now classified as murder and under investigation so justice can take place.

These incidents are a wake up call for Malaysians that there is a rise in bullying and abuse and we cannot deny this fact any longer especially when lives are lost in such brutal and inhumane manner. We have to start asking ourselves the big question here; why and what should you do ? Our kids are exposed to violence at such early age and are raised in an environment where bullying is normal. This is wrong. As parents, teachers and even as one of the youth it is our duty to educate ourselves and the people around us especially those who are younger that respect for others is important and there is no such thing as allowed bullying. Schools must change the famous traditional ways of ‘ragging’ where it involves violence and abuse these days. The initial reasoning for ragging was to discipline but often the authority given is abused and used with personal agenda without any guidelines which should not be the case. Punishments are not meant to take away lives or injure a person. I personally do not believe in educating through physical punishments but I respect that not everyone share the same view as I do. Even if a person were to choose physical punishments, there has to be boundaries of what they are allowed to do and not do. Those two boys who got killed due to bullying were not just students. They were someone’s child, a brother to their siblings and they were kids with dreams. As a human, who are we to take that away from others? It is important to educate the young that we should not act carelessly as lives cannot be revived. We are not allowed to harm others like as if they are dolls. Teach our children not to react to situation with abusive manner but to go around it with logical sense and rationality. Do not expose them to violence at a young age, making them think violence is fun and exciting. Instead, guide them about how to manage difficult situations when they are in schools or away from us. We have to teach our kids moral values and proper manners and home is the best place to start. A child is born to this world with a blank canvas. The family, the surroundings shape them to be who they are today. In a way, we are all responsible to create a safe environment for our kids as well as for all of us. Educate our kids about the kind of bullying that happens in this world and the measures they can take if they are bullied. Inform them about what to do in any case that a bullying occur and who they can go to. But most importantly, always be there for your kids. Create a safe space for them so they can speak freely to you with any problems they face, no matter how minor it is. You don’t necessarily have to be a parent to do this, you could be a sibling, a teacher, a friend, a school bus driver or even anyone. This is a shared duty we all carry to provide a safe nation for all. Reach out to as many people as we can and if you are unsure how you can help, direct them to those who knows how to.

Here are some questions for you. Have you ever been bullied ? How do you manage it ? Did you go to someone and talk about it or were you afraid to tell anyone ?

Click the link below for more information about the questions I mentioned:

shareyourstory

the hospital and I

Cancer ; a word that carries heavy meaning to it and also a word I’m so familiar with. I’m deviating from my usual environmental post to talk about my experience related to cancer. It started when I was twelve, right after mum decided to stop work and be a full time housewife. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t me who was diagnosed with cancer but my grandfather. He was the first that I know of to be diagnosed with cancer and it was colon cancer. The treatment came soon after he was being diagnosed. I was already a regular visitor of SJMC (a hospital) since I was young, again not because I was sick but I was often given the duty to accompany others for their medical checkups.

With my grandfather’s treatment, I visited the hospital more and more, sometimes on a daily basis. I remembered how my weekdays schedule were; Mondays and Thursdays I have tuition for two hours after school and at night I would drop by the hospital if grandfather was admitted. On days that he goes for treatment, mum would pick me up and we go straight to the hospital to wait for him until he finished his chemotherapy treatment. Grandfather was in stage 3 at that time, so he went for chemotherapy. I would spend hours sitting, talking to my mum or read a book while waiting for him. I often have my lunch in the hospital cafeteria too and I personally prefer the cafeteria in the old wing. The cancer department was in the new wing so I’d usually cross a bridge to the old wing for my lunch. They usually sell cakes and corn in cup too which was my favorite purchase before we leave for the day. Once grandfather is done with his treatment we would send him back for the day. On days that he was admitted to the hospital, I usually visit him in the afternoon and another time at night. It was more or less an on and off routine until I was fifteen. During those years, I cared for my grandmother too which I still do but she doesn’t visit the hospital as often now.

From those years of visiting the hospital, I learnt how to maneuver a wheelchair (which isn’t easy actually), how to help shift a person from the car to the wheelchair and spent hours waiting in the hospital looking at other patients while my own visits the doctor. I learnt how to care for a person who is bedridden and that when everything else fails to taste nice, cold jelly is your answer to get them to eat. I learnt how to read the charts and pick up doctors’ phrases because at that age understanding scientific words wasn’t really easy. But above everything, I learnt that caring for a sick person requires tolerance and patience. I used to be scared and so emotional seeing people get sick, worried that they will leave me one day. But I came to realize that a patient battling their own fight needed emotional support more than myself who is healthy. So I taught myself to be strong for them. And that every laughter meant so much to them because it makes a patient forget temporarily the suffering they have to go through. A sick person can be very difficult at times, most of the time you can’t really explain or understand why they act in a certain manner but know that it’s probably because they are struggling with their own battles too. And cancer was one tough battle. I remembered how my grandfather’s eyes would twinkle when I listen to his stories about his past or that I told him something about my day. He automatically smiles when I arrived at the hospital and always talks about his grandchildren to the doctors, even the nurses sometimes.

After grandfather passed away, I had few other family members that were diagnosed with cancer. My other grandfather, my relatives and now my dad. And every single time, it breaks my heart to know that this disease doesn’t have a cure yet. And every year, I would always somehow end up visiting SJMC, if not because of cancer it would be because of other sickness. It felt normal going to the hospital, like I’m going to a shopping mall. But getting news when someone is sick, especially the people I love always gets to me no matter how much I’ve dealt with. I got the news when I was in the UK, during Spring term. I was studying with my friend at our usual spot and I had a feeling to call my mum. When she told me the news, I tried so hard not to cry because I wanted to be strong for them. But I ended up crying without caring that there were people around me. But I’m better prepared now. Because I’ve learnt to understand their feelings before putting mine, I try to fulfill their demands as it would make them happy and put them at ease. I never had a youthful childhood where I get to go out when I like, spend hours with friends, go camping and hike up a mountain to watch the sunrise. Instead I mostly stayed at home and was taught (although I was reluctant) how to handle household chores. Not surprisingly, every time when there’s something big like when someone is sick or I’m having a major exams that’s the time when we would not have a maid too. So I had to learn how to clean the house, do the dishes, wash the clothes etc etc. Since I’m the only girl in the family, my mum always told me that if anything I had to takeover managing the family so I was practically drilled since young. I used to get so sad and rebellious about the fact that other friends could happily go camping and do things while I had to stay home and learn all these things.

Even until today, I don’t go out as and when I like. I usually plan a week ahead my outing schedule so that it doesn’t clash with anyone and that someone would be at home to handle things if I’m out. But now that I’m older, I could not complain. In fact, I felt bad for all the time that I was away while they’re struggling fighting their battles here. It’s the reason why I’m home now instead of enjoying my last few months of degree in the UK. With mum breaking her ankle and dad going through treatment, I cannot let them do everything themselves anymore. And even then, they were sorry that I had to come back although clearly I didn’t mind one bit. Balancing my own life while managing the house isn’t easy to be honest. I had to make sacrifices and because I’m needed at home most of the time, that means less time to catch up with friends or go for outing.

But at this age, I realized that some people are worth sacrificing for. I also realized that it won’t always be the same. I can’t be fifteen all the time and my family are not getting younger by the day. I wanted to share this because I know sometimes families can be difficult. We don’t always understand the people we love but that doesn’t mean that we should neglect them when it gets tough. Sometimes also we are not allowed certain things although we see no fault in it, but give them the benefit of the doubt and try taking their advice into consideration before you make a decision. The people who love you and care for you, love them back even when there are days they are harsh to you. They don’t always mean it. Sometimes, they have a lot on their mind too. Forgiveness is something you have to learn to give as much as you can so that you don’t end up bitter and full of hatred. And patience is something you must try to give because the people who love you, they were patient when you threw tantrums, when you were sobbing and going through your own pain. Most importantly, don’t ever take things for granted. Your priorities, make sure they’re worth it. You can’t buy time with a person. You also can’t solve everything. Which is why, even when you give your best, don’t forget to leave the rest that is beyond your control to The Almighty. He knows how to heal and only He can make miracles. Pray for your loved ones, pray that they are protected and always cared for and if it’s time that they leave, pray that they leave in peace and that they’ll be in a better place. Cherish your moments and treasure them because you never know when it will be taken away from you.

Morning from Budapest

Woke up today feeling at ease especially in a room filled with warm colors. The sunlight peaking through the curtains make it even more calming. It’s my third day in Budapest and I absolutely love this place, although I might say the same thing for every place I visit. But it is indeed beautiful. Budapest city is made up of two sides with Danube River in between. Not only it has 2 sides of history and culture to offer but it’s also different at night. Everything is relatively near and its interesting what you can discover when you’re out on a stroll around the city.

Since exams are over, I’ve been doing a bit of catching up with the current environmental issues especially here in Budapest. It fascinates and disappoints me at the same time to see what’s been going on around the world with regards to the environment. So here’s a bit of the information I got while I was leisurely enjoying the sun (or more like the bed) in Budapest.

On the 5th of June we human beings celebrated World Environment’s Day. I’m sure nobody missed this because it was trending everywhere on social media and there were news coverages about it too. I also read that US big players such as Google and Apple are joining forces to work towards their commitment in the Climate Change agreement. While Trump wanted out, it’s comforting to know that many US citizens are fighting his decisions and willing to come together for the purpose of making a better environment. But it saddens me to see that even environmental issues are highly influenced by politics when it is definitely every person’s responsibility to preserve and keep the environment in a healthy state. With so many challenges to protect our environment, the World Environment’s Day was indeed needed to bring people together and to instil awareness on the importance of keeping mother nature alive. People all over the world joined in celebrating the richness of earth by exploring nature and participating in environmental activities. Many organizations celebrated by holding conferences, events, competitions and setting trends on social media. It was really good to see everyone spirited about the environment and we must keep the momentum going. We can’t just celebrate for a day and expect the environment to heal on its own.

I also had a read on the passing of our Sumatran rhino in Malaysia. It is such a devastating news and with Puntung gone, Malaysia is left with only 2 Sumatran rhinos which is so close to extinction in Malaysia. Even in Indonesia, there are less than 100 Sumatran rhinos left. While Puntung’s death was to resolve it from going through suffering of chemotherapy and other pain, it is not doubt that the low number of Sumatran rhino population remains as a major concern for environmental workers in Malaysia. Protecting endangered species have always been a challenge in Malaysia especially when we are home to a diverse range of wildlife. Early last year, the news exploded when we lost more than 3 tigers within a month due to animal traps, accidents and poaching. That did not include other events, particularly animal trafficking and poaching that is constantly occuring not only in Malaysia but within the Southeast Asia region. While we don’t see the importance of protecting the wildlife, it is our duty to keep the balance in place. The wildlife is a source of contentment and happiness. It is in this world for reasons we might never know. But like every other creature on this planet, it is not our place to wipe them out so we can take over. They exist just like why the sky and sun exist. It is part of nature. The wildlife teaches us compassion and empathy on how to coexist in peace.

Apart from wildlife issues which are a constant worry, I’ve also been searching for ideas on how we can recycle things and remake them to be useful! While browsing through, I found a video about the typical paper cups we use to have hot drinks which are labeled as recyclable but often they are not recycled because of the high cost to remove a layer of wax from the cups. How surprising isn’t it ?! Of course when I get home I’ll be doing more research on that to fully understand the issue. I also found a few ideas that transforms plastic and old clothes to yarns so that it can be reused for weaving and knitting purposes. Since I love doing artsy stuff I had so much fun discovering all these ideas. I even made a few to-do list once I’m back at home. While this might not be contributing much to the amount of waste we humans generate every second, I really do hope that bit by bit we can instil awareness especially in Malaysia about the effects of wastage and how it pollutes our land, water, soil, air and many more. A polluted environment is definitely worrisome as it affects our health in general.

Also, I think this was old news as I read it a few months ago but there was a argument about the ban of plastic bags in Selangor, a state in Malaysia. While the ban of plastic bags was a common practice in other developed countries, not everyone took it well in Malaysia. The reaction towards this ban was also quite different. People were more willing to pay extra 20 cents to have the plastic bag for convenience. Since the ban was in place, the consumption of plastic bags for rubbish bins increased as well. The reason behind this was because many people used to recycle the plastic bags as waste bags but now they need to purchase as they can’t recycle the plastic bags anymore. While implementing ban for plastic bag had a good objective behind it, I think we should have also offered suggestions for solutions to the possible problems that comes with it. It is also important to educate why the ban of plastic bag is needed and how people can change their lifestyle to adapt to this new regulation. Alternative materials should be ready to act as substitute to plastic bags and we have to make it accessible for people to obtain them. Perhaps a short and long term campaign should have taken place so that it creates a sense of responsibility and encouragement for people to adhere to the new change in regulation. The objective of the ban is definitely a good effort but we could definitely improve more of creating awareness and getting more people to willingly pledge to the ban rather than enforce it to them.

With all the readings I did while in Budapest, it occured to me tht although we do have people fighting for the environment in Malaysia, it is not enough. It is not only protecting wildlife but also in our daily lifestyle. Although it is not easy, we could try to slowly change by constantly educating ourselves. Businesses and large organizations play an important role in shaping the lifestyle of our community too. It is so important to create awareness where possible and to learn about sustainability whenever we can.