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YSEALI Bootcamp: Interview with Esther Kana

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Why did you participate in the bootcamp?

I join the bootcamp as I read that Yseali, as its name abbreviated, enable to nurture future leaders. So I thought to myself, why not give myself this opportunity to learn what is needed as at the same time I happen to be interested with social entrepreneurship. I came in with an open mind to learn the necessities in order to form myself as a social changemaker. What surprise me was the platform given to us by Biji-Biji and also the collaborated teams enable me to enhance my leadership skills in leading a social change and also team who shares a like-minded cause.

Tell me a little about your winning idea and what you hope to see beyond the bootcamp.

Our team, Dark Phoenix, didn’t expect to win as we thought about just ending the day with equipping what we learn throughout the duration of the two-day period. Little did we expect that we hold a crucial key in introducing to our community the idea of food waste management and how one can actually benefit and sustain themselves through tackling this social cause. When we won, we won with bringing in the idea of utilising an app on benefiting of food waste management. With collaborating with Jeff, the person whom we were chosen to help in his social cause and owner of Worming Up, we happened to know that he needs a team to handle getting awareness of his social cause while he concentrates on his operational management of his social enterprise. Although our teams consist of mostly students and two working young adults, we came up with an idea as a marketing team for Worming up to spread awareness of his social cause which is food waste management. Through the effort, we hope to see a better elevated quality of community not just Kuching and Kota Samarahan but hopefully throughout Sarawak whereby a community who thinks more of their livelihood and wanting to further upgrade their self by being more aware of the food waste management. And also in the future we do hope to be able to implement the apps that we have ideate during the bootcamp.

How has design thinking and the overall bootcamp changed your approach/view in solving problems?

To be honest, the design thinking helped me in approaching a problem better and to better find a solution towards the problem. It also gives me awareness that social problem such as food waste, the usage of plastics in excess and also not keen of wanting to know more about your local heritage such as weaving skills etc, would affect a future where future youths will be the main victim here. Not only that, this social problem mentioned would seem like a norm to the masses that people would assume insane to even want to work out on this social causes therefore I learn that patience is the ultimate virtue I have learnt from the teams of Biji-Biji and they thought well that we need to continue our effort and be patience with the cause we believe in. I am more patience with myself now to tackle a social problem because not everyone will understand why a social cause such as handling a food waste properly should be done. Without this education, before this bootcamp, it would seem impossible to tackle social causes making me more not wanting to work more on my own community. I believe a good job well done is an understatement for the organisers because they are willing continue to help the winning teams beyond their means even after the YSEALI bootcamp.

What have you benefitted most from participating in the bootcamp? Or, what have you taken away from the bootcamp that you haven't picked up at university?

I learn that the organisers are really telling us youths that we are the future changemakers for Malaysia or at least within our community and that we are capable to sustain ourselves through social entrepreneurship. They are subtly telling us that help is around everywhere within grasp hand that we should further go within to find our potential in helping our community . I say this because Biji Biji mention that they are arms wide open to those whoever in Kuala Lumpur, to visit their avenue and to give them an update or whatever on our project development or just try out their makerspace. This shows me that they are serious about being a sole social changemaker from the very start (because they mention how they happen to do things at each other’s houses before starting the company) to where they are now.

How has this bootcamp changed your view (for better or for worse, there are no wrong opinions!) about community/social work in Malaysia?

To be honest, I would say change for the better because my interest is social entrepreneurship and I have not known many company or individual here in Sarawak who are involve in this business. Just a handful. And to know there are organisers from the West Malaysia like this to hold such a bootcamp and to inspire more youths and individual to be more involve in the social causes is beautiful in my opinion. This bootcamp also builds my courage to proceed in my social entrepreneurship dream. People think that to help a social cause, they won’t benefit much from it seeing how the word NGO portrays not for profiting. However, this bootcamp gives a more painted picture not just tackling social causes but tackling our pocket and sustaining ourselves throughout the process of it. I guess a lot of people should realise that, be it young or old, that we should start making a change within the community because changing our mind-set is changing our life quality.

What do you hope to go on to do after this? (The bootcamp, your studies...the general future)

I want to take the courage and step into the unknown to tackle the social problems within my community first hand. Since I just finished my studies I want to see my capabilities that I partake from the bootcamp to see whether or not im capable for this and to be able to sustain myself. I know it isn’t an easy task but I know I will receive help and also to be able to empower my community so that our quality of life will be elevated. I hope to empower more youths out there to be more social aware of the problems that is happening within our city scape.

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