In January 2018 , 16 tertiary students arrived from different countries such as China, Vietnam, Germany, India, Indonesia under the Challenges AIESEC C4C programme in Malaysia. They signed up as volunteers for the Cycle for Change (C4C) project with Challenges Foundation, Malaysia. The project aims to promote independence and proactive integration of people with disabilities (PWDs) within their communities by building a tandem bicycle library to support inclusive cycling activities. After four weeks of volunteer work, these are their feedbacks:
“Why I choose the project is because I like riding bicycle. I think I could be a good teacher when teaching the children. Because some children can’t walk, I want to try my best to help them. If I can carry them by bike, I will gain a sense of achievement.
After participating in the project, I found there were many people from other countries. They are all very nice and kind. I think I can learn a lot from them and many skills of mine could be improved. Ability from individual may not be strong enough, but with joined efforts we can achieve many things. Besides, I think this project is a very nice way to help people with disabilities. I believe we should establish some similar organization in China to help people. Maybe China’s institutions are not sound yet. I want to join this kind of organization when I return back to China. I want to bring the ideas and skills that I’ve learned here to my hometown.”
“I am Hang Ng from Vietnam in Cycle for Change (C4C) project and in the middle of the Incoming Global Volunteer (IGV) period now. At first, I have decided to be an Exchange Participant (EP) because I desired for a great change for myself to become a global citizen and the ability to direct my future career. What is more, I think participating for C4C will enhance my skills in doing jobs by hands through ensembling tandem bicycle. So, let me share with you my experience todate.
We come to the office, school and workshop to fulfill this project together. The office, Challenges Foundation is in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The room is convenient and has fairly enough facilities and space for work. I chose to be in the Marketing team where I practice making posters, banners, bookmarks, etc. We also go to schools for disabled children twice a week, doing various activities and my responsibility is Body Measure Index (BMI) task. Sometimes, we go to the workshop to collect and repair parts to make tandem bicycles.
All the people including EPs, buddies and AIESECERs are friendly and enthusiastic. I feel really lucky and happy to have a chance to work with them. Moreover, children with disability are naive and kind-hearted, especially they need everyone to “lend a hand to have an inclusive world”.
About food and culture, we have experienced them everyday. As for me, it’s kind of strange to Vietnamese culture but I can adjust and adapt them. For instance, this is the first time I have access to Muslims due to no mosques in my country.
Six weeks seem long but actually short to me. I hope each day will pass by slowly to let me cherish more beautiful things here so as there is no regret later. One day, when I return home I will definitely bring back what I have learned from here and try as much as I can to fill the unequal gaps in my country.”
“I am from India, a country where people are known to be very warm and friendly to others. However, people over there are not so friendly towards people with disabilities. That is the reason why I chose this project. I wanted to learn more about People With Disabilities (PWDs), the problems faced by them and their position in the society. Now it has been around 4 weeks of volunteering in Malaysia and I have taken part in a few campaigns for raising awareness for PWDs, a Recycle Bicycle drive and workshops with children in the schools. I think that these people don’t need our sympathy. All they need is the right to live like normal people.
In Malaysia what I find is that people have a positive attitude towards the disabled. But still there needs to be a change in the way we see these people. And I wish to take the same experiences to India as well when I return and look forward to create such an organization where they get treated just like normal people, because I believe that even one person can make a difference if he/she has the determination to do so.”
Jiaxuan Huang, China
“As a member of AIESEC, which is an organization that provides young people with leadership development, cross cultural communication, and global volunteer exchange experiences. I fully understand the impact youth can make to the world by dedicating their efforts. And I’ve always wanted to experience the global volunteer program in person. That’s how I got to know about the project– Cycle for Change (C4C) in Malaysia.
When I decided to apply for this project, the most interesting part for me was that C4C had tandem bicycle building, education at primary school and cooperation with media company, so I get to do a lot of activities at the same time.
I learned a lot during my four weeks here, like planning on events at school and donation drive, writing articles for Challenges Media, and getting to know how marketing or public relation function in Malaysia. C4C is the place for our exchange participants to develop leadership by making and conducting our plans ourselves. Each of us come here with our own country’s experience so as a team we can work better with different mindsets. And more importantly, we are able to spread the ideas of C4C and apply the knowledge we learned when we’re back in our country.”
Jowell Zheng, Nanjing
“I think the most impressive thing here is the experience with the children. We don’t share the same language, nor the same living environment, but the same passion for life. They’re eager for the future and interested in things, always ready to create what they want and what they love.
After I return to China, I want to share my life and experience here with the locals, for example the People First Language as Miss Mary Chen, Founder Director of Challenges Foundation said before, which was out of my consideration when I talked about people with disabilities before. Meanwhile, it is also of crucial importance for me to try to accept and understand the differences, and only in this way can we enjoy a harmonious society together.”
Irene Ruan, Shanghai
“The reason why I came here is that I want to do something meaningful, not only for my country but also for the global society.
The situation of children with disability in China may be similar to that in Malaysia.
Before this, I haven’t been so closed to children with disability. Since coming here to Malaysia, they really left me a deep impression that I will never forget.
It is a good memory that we play with them, teach them and also dance with them although the language is not connected, our hearts can go together. They are really cute and kind, and need some attention! So I’m very honoured to be here as a volunteer to do the donation drive, recycle campaign and other things for them. Hope they will have a bright future and grow up healthier!
After I return back to my country, I will also do something to raise people’s awareness for those special kids. I will try my best to call out my friends to join me to volunteer more!
All my experiences here with Challenges Foundation is really nice, thanks to all the people who work with me!”