19 November 2010, Kuala Lumpur – There was one chord that BOH Plantations, WWF-Malaysia and TV9 played in unison – Building a sustainable future and building a new generation of conservationists. Their mission was clear cut. To keep empowering school-going youths with a 'voice' for orang-utan conservation through the New Hope for Orang-utan School Programme and simultaneously ensuring that the world's hope for the continued survival of the orang-utan remain unabated.
And the youths have done it again, reinforcing their claim that young people can play a huge part in conservation efforts for the future. For the second year running, youths from across the nation took up the flaming torch and rose to the challenge of being the voices for orang-utan conservation through the New Hope for Orang-utan School Programme.
A collaborative effort between BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd (BOH), WWF-Malaysia and TV9, the programme was conceived with the purpose of continuing to create awareness on the plight of the orang-utan among youths and to empower them to play a role in spreading the message of conservation of these primates. The school programme is endorsed by the Ministry of Education as it encourages students' creative thinking and broadens their knowledge on conservation.
Caroline Russell, CEO of BOH Plantations said, "I am pleased to say today that our students have risen to the challenge of proving that greatness pervades in our future generation. And they have demonstrated this with their creative blog entries expressing their desire to save our orang-utan. Their innate passion and exuberance shone through the awareness activities they implemented and it is admirable to see what our young people have achieved.
"Much importance is placed on the character of youths today, who are the leaders of tomorrow. The virtues instilled in them now will one day be passed on to the future generations and so forth. Judging from the quality of entries of the New Hope for Orang-utan School Programme, I strongly believe that our young people have proven that they can be instrumental in creating change for the orang-utan and providing an impetus towards a more sustainable future," Russell added.
Also at the event was Head of TV9 Brand Management Group, Feisal Malik, who added, "We are very honoured to be a part of this campaign where we can work as a team to help save the nearly-extinct orang-utans and at the same time, inspire youths from all over Malaysia to join hands in protecting the environment. TV9 and its personalities have gotten in touch directly with the students through exciting games, constructive talks and useful interviews so that these young students are able to better understand the issues we are currently facing and that they too have the power to assist in solving these problems.
True to the saying 'we learn what we're shown, not what we're told', the Kawan 9 capsules which were aired on TV9, educated the viewers on how vital and simple it is to protect the nature and was even made known that all of us have to play a part in providing a long-term protection for our social well-being and as well as our natural heritage. Working collaboratively with BOH Plantations and WWF-Malaysia has definitely been an invaluable experience and we hope to share many more wonderful and celebratory milestones with them in the future," Malik added.
Speaking at the event, Dato' Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma, Executive Director / CEO of WWF-Malaysia, congratulated the winners of the "New Hope for Orang-utan School Programme" and thanked all participants. He said, "WWF-Malaysia also thanks BOH Plantations and TV9 for working with us on this exciting initiative for orang-utan conservation. We hope that other corporations will emulate your exemplary social responsibility.
"Working with local community groups, our partners and generous supporters such as BOH Plantations, WWF-Malaysia has rehabilitated degraded patches of forest by replanting native tree species, with the aim of improving the connectivity of wildlife habitat to facilitate the animals' movement, feeding and breeding. From 2005 to July 2010, WWF-Malaysia and our partners have worked together to replant about 109,857 trees, restoring about 385 hectares of degraded forest areas in the Lower Kinabatangan," Dato' Dr Dino added.
The New Hope for Orang-utan School Programme was open to all private or secondary schools nationwide with participating students aged between 13-17 years. Sixty schools participated in the programme, whereby students had to spearhead a campaign with on-ground activities to promote awareness of orang-utan conservation to their fellow peers and the wider community. A unique element of the programme entailed the students utilising blogs as a medium to creatively express the activities of their awareness campaign.
The Kawan 9 team from TV9 embarked on a 4-week school roadshow by visiting seven schools in the central region and another 32 surrounding schools outside and inside of the Klang Valley to create awareness on the school programme.
10 blogs were shortlisted for public voting. The prize giving ceremony was held at Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club on 19th Nov 2010. Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan King George V, Negeri Sembilan won the first prize, bagging RM8,000. Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Lembah Bidung, Setiu, Terengganu took the second prize of RM5,000 while in the third place Sekolah Menengah Dang Anum, Melaka won RM2,000.
Another feature at the New Hope for Orang-utan School Programme prize presentation ceremony was the launch of Tea for Trees Facebook fan page. Tea for Trees is BOH's ongoing public awareness orang-utan conservation programme aimed at encouraging the public to play a small but active role in orang-utan conservation efforts by way of adopting a tree for replanting efforts. For a small fee, donors can help towards the restoration of the orang-utan home in Kinabatangan by symbolically adopting a tree. Funds generated will be channeled to WWF-Malaysia for reforestation work.
Following its inception two years ago, Tea for Trees has matured from a once-a-year public event to a daily venture that can be easily accessed throughout the year via BOH's Facebook. The launch of Tea for Trees fan page was tastefully kicked-off with the presence of TV personalities, Irma Hasnie and Nor Azemi Suhaimi who gladly came on board as fans of Tea for Trees and champions of the cause.
Speaking about the new virtual Tea for Trees, Russell said, "In today's environment where social media has such a wide-spread appeal and it is an effective and important communications platform, we feel it is necessary for us to reach out to this audience, many of whom are aspiring conservationists. Digital media has changed the way we consume information and establishing a Tea for Trees fan page serves as a powerful tool for us to channel vital information such as orang-utan conservation.