The internet has revolutionised the way we live and digital literacy is a one-way ticket to experience life like never before. Everyone should be granted this opportunity - including marginalised communities. To broaden the digital horizons of the underprivileged, the Me.reka Belia programme was launched. Social programmes such as Me.reka Belia provide the necessary tools and teachings for our communities to achieve financial independence. As the saying goes, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Hence, it is imperative that digital literacy is incorporated into education as the internet could potentially be the road that leads them to an improved standard of living (Connection to the Internet and Fighting Poverty, 2020).
The Me.reka Belia programme was designed to teach all youths in the Lembah Subang PPR (People’s Housing Project),from upper secondary school students to young adults working below minimum wage. The 3-month programme began in September 2020, running its courses virtually due to MCO restrictions with interactive webinars, pre-recorded videos and guided tutorials. The programme’s syllabus is developed with the latest technology available to us today through platforms and softwares that can stimulate the progress of a business. The participants were tutored on multiple topics from basics to advanced topics. They were introduced to the world of Google( Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Drive) and all other applications within the system. Similarly, they were also briefed on the use of Microsoft Office software, specifically Microsoft Excel where they were taught basic transferable skills that can be applied to multiple industries in the workforce. “This programme is really useful for those who wish to start an online business. Besides, I also get to know how to use the Internet well”, mentions 17-year-old Wardina Amysha. Apart from these fundamentals, the youth were also coached on how to start a sustainable online business. From drafting the necessary documents to introduction of e-commerce platforms like Shopee, Facebook Marketplace and Instagram, they were inspired to utilise the internet to their advantage.
Abu Zarrin is one of the participants from the Me.reka Belia Programme chosen to be a successor of the grant provided by Yayasan Hasanah, an impact-based foundation engendering real and lasting positive social and environmental changes for Malaysia.
“This programme helps participants learn more about the online careers available and the knowledge to grow the business”, says Abu Zarrin.
Zarrin and his family moved to PPR Lembah Subang at the end of 2017 when their house and business located in Masjid Subang Airport was demolished due to development in the surrounding area. He mentions that the family did go to court to fight for fair compensation given their situation, but to no avail. The family now lives in PPR Lembah Subang where Zarrin operates a restaurant that serves as a center for people to donate provisions, thus allowing the restaurant to cook and provide meals for the PPR community. The restaurant is able to supply food of 1000 pax monthly to the community, subject to the availability of donors. This family business also began distributing food to other members of the PPR community due to COVID-19 affecting many of its residents financially. Through Me.reka Belia, Abu Zarrin has improved knowledge on how to utilize the restaurant’s Facebook page for marketing and connecting with target customers and the community. As he picks up on digital literacy, it opens up more opportunities to improve the reach of his business, thus helping him be the bridge between PPR residents and good samaritans.
Here’s a question for you: what would you do if you had RM 1,000,000 right this second? How would you allocate the cash? Let’s be honest - for the majority of us, at least a certain portion of the money will be allocated to personal expenses, at least to ease the burden of daily life. When the same question was posed to Abu Zarrin, he answered with absolute certainty, saying that he would rent out all available spaces around the PPR to start multiple businesses so that job opportunities can be created for the PPR residents. The sense of community among these residents radiate strongly within each individual. In fact, Abu Zarrin is not the only one who constantly thinks about helping the community. During the project idea pitch session under the Me.reka Belia programme, most if not all who participated mentioned that they intend to hire people from the community to work on the project to give the residents a chance to receive stable income. Many also mentioned that they wish to help struggling residents using the additional income they may procure from the project. This heartwarming, strong sense of social connection and responsibility among the B40 community is truly admirable and should be emulated regardless of societal class.
Me.reka Belia further promotes and advocates for this communal style of living, encouraging PPR residents to collaborate with one another. The programme approaches challenges faced in PPR communities by nurturing community leaders to solve them independently. Believing that communities know best when dealing with hazards that occur in the community, the program will continue to educate and guide PPR residents to help improve the standard of living of these communities. Have burning passion in creating social impact? Me.reka Belia encourages collaborations with NGOs who are also involved in helping our local communities. Find out more at its Facebook page.
Moya, S. (2020, May 3). Connection to the Internet and Fighting Poverty. The Borgen Project. Available at: https://borgenproject.org/connection-to-the-internet/