As a bachelor student at the University of Malaya and an experience leader, Muhammad Hidayat Fahmi is actively involved in various Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and directed quite a number of projects. He has also attended several ASEAN conferences such as the ASEAN Youth Exchange Programme (AYEP) in 2018 in Thailand.
Muhammad first learnt about the eMpowering Youth Across ASEAN (EYAA) opportunity through a facebook post, while he was on his exchange programme in South Korea. After researching more about the programme, he learnt that EYAA is the ASEAN Foundation initiative that aims to alleviate poverty and improve social and economic well-being of ASEAN Communities through youth volunteerism and social innovation. The programme encourages youth between the ages of 19 to 35 years old from all 10 ASEAN Member states to leverage their experiences, knowledge and put their project ideas into action and create meaningful change for the local community in the Southeast Asian region. Then, they are able to realize their social enterprises with the generous support of the Maybank Foundation. Additionally, the programme aims to build the capacity of youth in ASEAN region to achieve the ASEAN Community building and contribute to the implementation of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and ASEAN socio-Cultural Community BluePrint 2025 of becoming a more open and adaptive ASEAN.
After learning about this opportunity, where he can get involved in a social enterprise while meeting other ASEAN youth, Muhammad just knew he had to apply. As a result, he became one of the ten Malaysian youth who was chosen to be part of the EYAA programme in 2018-2019. He was then placed in team with 9 other ASEAN youth and was assigned to tackle the thematic area of ‘Arts and Culture’ in Cambodia. The team partnered with a civil society organisation, Color Silk and together, they had the same vision, which is to increase silk products. After a proper discussion, the team created the Silk Wave project. The Silk Wave project is designed to improve the awareness of Cambodian traditional weaving art among the local community villagers, women, weavers, farmers, local visitors and local students who were the target audience of the project. In the long-run, the project envisions to build a solid foundation to attract tourists, particularly those interested in ecotourism in the Takeo Province, Cambodia.
As the programme manager, Muhammad was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the project. With a team of 10 youth from different countries, Muhammad shared that it was a positive experience because he was able to learn more about the different work culture from the other ASEAN youth and he learnt to adapt to the diverse opinions on the management and direction of the project. He adds that “As we came from different parts of ASEAN, it is interesting to take note that our mindset about certain aspects are different from one another, however, we managed to always find a common agreement in terms of planning the project.”. Overall, Muhammad says that the experience of working with the others is something worth remembering and learning from.
In February 2019, Muhammad and his team travelled to their project site in Cambodia to implement the two-week volunteer community project. With the help of Color Silk, a social business that works to prevent the disappearance of the ancient Cambodian silk weaving tradition, and a grant of USD 20,000, SilkWave project was able to run successfully. The project managed to engaged with 100 villagers and 80 students. To expose the villagers and students to the silk weaving industry, SilkWave held an Open Day where local businesses were given stalls to conduct their business. Furthermore, 100 dye trees were planted. To ensure the sustainability of the project, the team recruited seven local fa
rmers to continue the garden monitoring process after the two-week programme ended.
When asked about his experience in the programme, Muhammad recalls that from his participation, he improved his problem solving and critical thinking skills when addressing certain issues. Additionally, he shares that this experience has helped him expand his expertise in leading a project outside of his country. While his team faced some challenges, he assures that all members managed to give their all in ensuring the
success of the project and it was also a reminder that “Even if your team members come from different countries, everything is possible with good leadership”.
Muhammad shares that he highly recommends youth to apply for the EYAA programme, “I would definitely recommend EYAA, especially to those who want to grow themselves to become future leaders”. He encourangily says that at EYAA, youth will be able to meet great people who have accomplished astounding feats, and that they will be able to network with leaders from all over ASEAN. Moreover, Muhammad feels that his involved in EYAA has helped him develop as a person. He share that after attending EYAA, he learnt more about project implementation and he is currently the director of a programme called, Adoptive Case 2.0, an education based programme to empower children through education. Besides that, he is also a proud ambassador for four different organisations, he credits EYAA for his achievements, “I believe that EYAA has been one of the core factors for my development as it prompts my leadership skills to its best level.”