For a group of over 20 students from Taylor’s College and Taylor’s University, being involved in a community development project was a LaunchPad they couldn’t have foreseen being a part of.
The group of students, who live within the residence halls of Taylor’s Hostel Management, embarked on a meaningful project earlier this year to assist refugees with a core need; menstrual hygiene. Approximately 500 pieces of reusable sanitary pads were handmade by the students and refugees to be donated to refugee organizations. The students also facilitated free pad-making and basic menstrual hygiene management workshops for female refugees.
Taylor’s Hostel Management Chief Operating Officer, Sheena Angelina said that the project is an example of the service learning initiatives annually, as part of the Resident Welfare Support programme, which provide opportunities for students to learn and develop beyond the classroom.
“This year, we reached out to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Soroptimist Puberty Organising Toolkit (SPOT), and Rohingya Women Development Network (RWDN) to bring our student-led initiative to life. Local artisan Nasha from NASHPOTATOES was also brought onboard because of her extended experience empowering refugee women as well as her creative flair for turning recycled materials into quirky fashion pieces,” she said.
For Leanne Goh, participating in this project was a learning experience like no other.
“I signed up for this project as I wanted to be involved in a meaningful and impactful project that would benefit the refugee community. It has been a great experience over the last two months – I have learnt to appreciate that everyone has a different way of working and know the importance of being flexible. Teamwork can only happen when everyone adjusts to their team members working style.
“The memory that sticks most with me so far is when I went on a field trip to visit the refugees. I got left with an idea of what empowerment would look like as the women want to be able to help their families in any way possible. It made me motivated to help them even more,” said the Foundation in Science student.
Kamilia binti Mohd Hashim signed up for the initiative solely for the fact that it would empower women refugees with skills to help their families.
“Female empowerment has always been something that captivated me. When I saw that they were looking for volunteers for this initiative, I immediately signed up because it combined two components I love and am curious about- women empowerment and refugees.
“I went into this thinking that I would be a wallflower because I’m naturally shy but because I was working alongside peers who were equally passionate about this project, I have really thrived throughout the two months we have been collaborating together.
“Throughout this experience, I am reminded of how blessed I am and how I can use my natural abilities to help those around me,” said the 17 year old.
Nakeeran Kumar Kanthavel, a first-year law student with Taylor’s University, agreed with the sentiment adding that his interactions with the Rohingya women gave him great insight and respect for their perspective on life.
“Even till today, I am grateful that I got a ringside seat to their lives as I got to see the commitment, love, responsibility and accountability they hold for their family. This has in turn, created in me a desire to emulate these strong attributes in my own interactions with my family.
“Being involved in this project also showed me how to navigate communicating in a team setting and the importance of clear communication in order to achieve our goal.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of not only this project but also part of the team that developed 500 reusable pads for the Rohingya women,” said the Johor Bahru native.
The threes students, along with the other members of the THM residents involved in the production of the pads under the guidance of the lead facilitator and coordinator Lew Pik-Svonn, presented the efforts of their labour to the Rohingya women in a special event attended by Ms Felicitas Nebril (Senior Field Coordinator) and Dr Susheela Balasundaram (Associate Public Health Officer) from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
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