She said “Out of the hundreds of kids I’ve given my talks to, taught them about recycling, brought them out on nature excursions to show them the beauty of Mother Nature and stress the importance and need to preserve her, only one kid heeded my call. That kid was you.”
Her name was Aunty Carrol, and aunty Carrol she would always be known to me. I have followed her since I could trek up steep mountain slopes with my parents to plant trees with the environmental organization, Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (REACH).
And for that I’d first have to thank my parents for the unconditional love and support they have given me over the years to pursue my passion of being an environmentalist capable of bringing change to the current system where not many people actually care about environmental issues.
I have listened attentively as aunty Carrol talked about the importance of recycling, and today, it is I who am giving the talks to the schoolchildren, I who try to stress the importance of preserving the environment, I who realize that it is a thankless, hard, and most of the time, fruitless path because seriously, how many people actually give a damn about the environment?
I grew up. Aunty Carrol left. And another mentor took me under her wing. Today I can fly a drone over our reforestation site to monitor it, thanks to Dr Cheam. I can sit and dictate terms and conditions with governmental departments on more effective ways and methods to preserve important water catchment areas.
I can conduct various environmental activities for schools, organizations and even multi-national companies. I can bring them to trek up to our beautiful Bio-D Centre atop Mt. Brinchang and show them the connectivity of the circle of life where the moss growing on the trees around us absorbs so much moisture that they trickle down and make up the rivers which give life to the rest of Cameron Highlands.
Under the guidance of yet another role model in my life, Dr Liau, I can conduct a simple biological, chemical and physical assessment of the rivers in Cameron Highlands to show people the hidden wonders of the macroscopic world in our streams and rivers, under our very noses all the time, and we, never knowing, taking our rivers for granted and them like a sewage system.
I would not be here today without the guidance of these important people in my life, and for that, I am eternally grateful. #thebestofyou brought out the best in me and today I am a law graduate with every intention of realizing my dreams of being an advocate of environmental rights in Malaysia. I will end with an excerpt from my favorite poem by our National Laureate A Samad Said:
I want clean air for my grandchildren
I want the damn fools to leave the forest alone
I want the trees to grow
the rivers run free
and the earth covered with grass
Let the politicians plan how we may live with dignity
Now and always