As a bachelor student at the University of Malaya and an experienced 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 in 2018 in Thailand.
Hidayat first learnt about the eMpowering Youth Across ASEAN (EYAA) opportunity through Facebook, while he was on his exchange programme in South Korea. After researching more about the programme, he learnt that EYAA is a partnership programme between the ASEAN Foundation and Maybank Foundation that aims to alleviate poverty and improve social and economic well-being of ASEAN Community 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 and knowledge to put their project ideas into action and create meaningful change for the local community in the region. 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, Hidayat just knew he had to apply. He later became one of the ten Malaysian youths to take part of the EYAA: Cohort One and was then placed in a team with 9 other ASEAN youths to tackle the thematic area of ‘Arts and Culture’ in Cambodia. The team partnered with a local civil society organisation, Color Silk, to develop and implement their programme. Together they created the Silk Wave project with a goal to improve the awareness of Cambodian traditional weaving art among local villagers, women, weavers, farmers, visitors and students who were the target audience of the project. In the long-run, the project team envisions to build a solid foundation to attract tourists, particularly those interested in ecotourism in the Takeo Province, Cambodia.
As the programme manager, Hidayat was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the project and leading the project team. He shared that leading a team with people from different backgrounds provided a positive experience because he was able to learn more about the different work cultures from the other ASEAN youth and learnt to adapt to the diverse opinions on the management and direction of the project. “As we came from different parts of ASEAN, it is interesting to take note that our mindsets about certain aspects are different from one another. However, we managed to always find a common agreement in terms of planning the project.”
In February 2019, Hidayat and his team traveled to their project site in Cambodia to implement the two-week community project by collaborating with Color Silk. Equipped with a grant of USD 20,000, SilkWave project was able to run successfully. The project managed to engaged with 100 villagers and 80 students. One of the key activities of the project was an Open Day where villagers and students were introduced to the silk weaving industry and local businesses were given stalls to sell their products. Another key activity is the planting of 100 dye trees. To ensure the sustainability of the project, the team recruited seven local farmers to continue the garden monitoring process after the two-week programme ended.
When asked about his experience in the programme, Hidayat 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 assured that all members managed to give their all in ensuring the success of the project. "Even if your team members come from different countries, everything is possible with good leadership,” Hidayat said.
Hidayat highly recommends youth to apply for the EYAA programme, said “I would definitely recommend EYAA, especially to those who want to grow themselves to become future leaders.” He encouragingly said that through the programme, 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, Hidayat felt that his involvement in EYAA has helped him develop as a person. He shared that after attending the programme, he learnt more about project implementation and that knowledge helps him to run a programme called Adoptive Case 2.0, an education based programme to empower children through education, as the director. 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,” Hidayat told the ASEAN Foundation.