Kayak For Humanity: “Giving Back to the Society”
by Kayak For Humanity
Kayak For Humanity – brainchild of Great People Sdn. Bhd.
A group of young Malaysians will be embarking on an adventure to explore Sarawak, Malaysia by kayak. Led by Mr. Ziahul Asraf Syed Sultan who set three Malaysian records for long distance sea kayaking, the team also comprise of great people in their own ways. Mr. Harris Taufieq is a National Community Basketball League player and coach while Mr. Ravichandran is one of the very few Malaysian gold medalists of The International Award for Young People. Mr. Mohamed Rahiman was once listed in the Who’s Who in universities and colleges of United States and Miss Chew Hoong Ling who is a social activist championing the cause of organ donation and even donated part of her liver to a stranger two years ago.
Ziahul Asraf set Malaysia record for long distance sea kayaking surrounding the Peninsular Malaysia from Perlis to Kelantan in 2005, and in year 2006 he paddled from Penang, Malaysia to Bandar Aceh, Indonesia. In the same year, he also kayaked from Jambongan, Philippines to Sabah, Malaysia.
Apart from Ziahul Asraf, all other team members are first timer in sea kayaking. Their mission is to combine passions into one adventurous feat and they gave birth to Kayak For Humanity (www.kayakforhumanity.com). Instead of just kayaking in the sea, they will stop daily at villages and reach out to youths in Sarawak. They would like to discover Sarawak and create awareness to others of the richness and beauty of the coastal environment and the very hospitable communities there too.
Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia, diversified in culture, rich in nature and one of the most blissful places on earth. Also known as the Land of Hornbills, Sarawak is situated in the north-west of Borneo island.
The inaugural year for Kayak For Humanity, the team has chosen Sarawak as its first destination. Why Sarawak? “Sarawak is one of the best state in Malaysia which offers a variety of natural habitat and environment. At times, there are also places inaccessible by land, so kayak can reach out to more people,” said Asraf, who is also the Expedition Director.
Every journey begins with a single step. The team is currently at the very first few steps in liaison with relevant authorities, conducting initial surveys and meanwhile will begin training next week. The whole journey is targeted to reach out to over 100,000 people in the villages, touched the lives of the locals and bring Sarawak to the eyes of more than 200,000 online Internet users.
“Potentially our team realized that through kayak, we can reach out to places inaccessible by land and we hope to touch our fellow Malaysians and tell the world. We felt that we should share the experience and what we witness in the journey with the world. We would like to combine human touch with the advancement of technology. We hope to create awareness on the richness of Sarawak and its people to the world. Therefore we have a website and blog set up as well as Facebook and Twitter to bring live updates, photos and even video recordings to anyone with Internet access,” Chew, the Publicity and Finance Manager, said.
Water Safety Features
Kayak for Humanity understands that accidents could happen anytime and a Malaysian phrase which says “Malang tidak berbau” literally means “misfortunes has no smell” meaning we could not predict mishaps. Therefore, there are water safety measures taken such as full fledged intensive trainings for all paddlers including physical exercises to help prevent cramps. The team also did a few capsize drills and how each team member could assist another in the event of capsize. Some gears including water pumps (to pump water off kayaks), spray deck (to cover the kayak to prevent water from getting into the kayak during rough sea conditions), and we use sea touring type kayaks.
Moreover, we have the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to escort us on ships, as well as on-land support which will coordinate and liaise all land communication and emergencies, all of which are additional precautionary measures for the paddlers.
The team has also contingency plans in case of rough sea conditions by preparing to camp at any shores nearby. Therefore quick foods like instant noodles, chocolate bars, cooking equipments, water, tents and even tug lines are compulsory safety items along with the kayaks.
Sponsors and Affiliates
Although this is the first year of expedition, the team is very happy to receive support from many acquaintances , friends and family members. FireFly is the official carrier, sponsoring flights for all paddlers to Kuching, Sarawak and back to Kuala Lumpur. GREAT People Sdn. Bhd. sponsored all secretariat management and coordinated the whole journey. UNITI College also provided venue for training and accommodation throughout the training duration. Family and friends also chipped in to provide financial assistance as well as essential products wherever possible.
This year’s inaugural activities warrants that the team would have to source for corporate sponsorships and government funding. However,for future activities, the team expects to generate income through kayak workshops, book sales, merchandise items and other means of income so the project could continue to touch lives and meet objectives. Corporate support and government assistance would certainly be required in the future but perhaps more of an additional backups.
Mohamed Rahiman reiterated that, “We need to partake a mechanism to do business vis-a-vis doing social deeds. Hence, the concept of social enterprise (“socent”) is in the pipeline though “socent” is still very new in Malaysia. Kayak For Humanity can perhaps spearhead our social entrepreneurship as a private company while championing social causes that our team holds close to our hearts individually as well. We hope to achieve one goal at a time while we inspire the young and re-examine our business perspectives periodically”