Of huge hearts in little kids

By Serina Rahman
Photos by Ji Lian, Serina Rahman and Khor Hui Min

jilian_2006gardenThe third year students of Garden International School are very little people with very big hearts. I was fortunate to be invited to spend some time with these 9-year-old kids to talk to them about the marine environment; but when I got there, their eagerness and passion simply bowled me over.

It really wasn’t difficult to get them excited about the ocean and its inhabitants; their teachers already had an extensive environmental programme weaved into their curriculum and most of the kids were already environmentally savvy and aware of conservation issues. Still, it was fantastic to see them sit in wide-eyed wonder at photos of underwater critters and creatures, some of which they had never seen before.

srahman_2006gardenBeyond just being amazed at the beauty of what lies beneath the deep blue seas, these young citizens of the world were able to understand that this ecosystem is in danger and that they had to do something about it. They were incredibly boisterous and imaginative in their response to activities held in each class after the main talk.

As part of the brief programme at the school, each child took part in a competition to convey a marine conservation message on a button badge. Our goal was to look for funds to print the winning designs in order to raise money for future activities with island children, but what happened next was a huge surprise.

On their own (and with their teachers’ support), the children sold cakes, cookies and their own toys to raise funds at lunchtime for our cause. They garnered an astounding RM3,100 which they split between us and WWF. A few weeks later I received a phone call informing me that the children had done some fund-raising for us, but I was dumbfounded when I saw exactly what they had done – all on their own initiative.

hmkhor_2006tiomanThe RM1,505 cheque that they proudly presented to me at their Earth Day concert financed the production of two of their winning badge designs AND allowed us to conduct a similar programme on Pulau Tioman. The hard work of these third year children in Kuala Lumpur enabled us to produce a total of five designs (three of which came from the school children on Pulau Tioman).

The Marine Group would have been hard-pressed to come up with the cash to do all this if it wasn’t for the generosity and dedication of these young children. Four months after my first visit, I went back to the school again to give out prizes and say goodbye before they disbanded for the holidays, and they were still bubbling over with questions on the environment. Without hesitation, they could rattle off a number of things that they could do to save the world, but if you ask me, they’ve done a lot already!

To find out more about these badges or to buy them (RM10 per set), please get in touch with Serina at serina74@whale-mail.com.