Even as the world continues to reel from the effects of Covid-19, there is hope. After all, the most searched phrase in 2020 was “how to help” and people from every corner of the globe have come together to help their communities and beyond, all in the name of humanity. Even the young have stood up to be counted. “Everyone is suffering in different ways, be it financially, mentally or even physically, seeing friends and family afflicted by the virus itself. This is truly the time to be kind … to be selfless and, equally importantly, to be generous,” says Amira Badawi Kamaluddin.
Just 20 years of age, the granddaughter of Malaysia’s fifth prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has kick-started a unique fundraising initiative called Move For Hope (MFH), which aims to raise RM100,000 between Feb 15 and March 30 to provide a year’s worth of internet for 54 refugee families at Hope Learning Centre in Kuala Lumpur. “We want better access to online education,” says Amira. “The school accommodates students aged between three and 16 years old, most of whom have no proper routers at home and resort to attending online classes using their mobile phones with unreliable data plans.”
What sets MFH apart is its win-win approach to fundraising — help your fellow man out while having fun and staying fit. Fifty-six instructors, including some of the city’s most sought-after names like Yi Ping Teo, Christian Lee and Muiz Tajul Abrar, teach classes for a minimum donation of RM30 per participant, with all proceeds going to MFH. “Every single instructor brings something beautiful to the table,” she adds.
“Besides being wonderfully unique in the way they teach, participants can be assured they are in good hands. Yi Ping, for example, is powerful, strong and such a great role model for young girls and those finding their way in their own fitness journey. When she started PWRHouse, I was in awe and went out of my way to ensure she was on board for MFH. Christian, from Tribe Boxing, blew me away from the first Facetime call with his kindness, passion and drive. He is excellent for those starting out in the sport as well as advanced-level boxers. Muiz has also been an angel, raising a lot for the cause and being the brains behind March’s daily challenge, where he bases his number of kettlebell swings on the number of children we are helping. I love how all this revolves around getting people active while giving back to the kids.”
Having trained as a dancer for the last five years at Hurtwood House in the UK and at NYU Tisch School of the Arts in the US, it is clear that Amira knows firsthand the power of staying active for the sake of physical and mental wellbeing. “That was what inspired me to use fitness as the means to an end,” she smiles. “I have personally signed up for all the classes on MFH and would like to stress how this is a great opportunity for people to try something new. There’s a myriad of dance classes from salsa to afro, jazz to contemporary as well as spin, Hiit and boxing. Whatever you are looking for, we have it! The point is to try and have fun while donating to a cause that will make a huge difference in people’s lives. So, even if one class isn’t right for you, there are 50-plus others that could be. And even if fitness isn’t your thing, just know you’ll be helping kids with real needs.”
Amira is not going it alone. She is backed by a dynamic team of young people, all in their 20s, which includes Ula Wyss (manager and head of technology), Vanessa Tay (head of designs), Jaan Joseph (head of marketing and social media management), Gerald Anyi (marketing and client correspondence), Dzaim Dzulkifli (marketing and admin), Katelyn Tan (designs and content creator), Danial Marzuki (photographer/videographer), Jayme Teoh (marketing and admin) and Alex Webster (international instructor manager).
“MFH started off with Ula and I brainstorming how we could make a small contribution to an underprivileged community during this lockdown,” Amira explains. “We wanted to teach a couple of dance classes, pile our money together and see what we could do. Ula then recruited Vanessa to join our little duo and we decided to channel our energy towards Hope Learning Centre as both of them already had a close relationship with the school, volunteering as teachers.”
Clearly one who dreams big, Amira went into overdrive recruitment, culminating in 56 instructors who are all on board to help achieve the target of RM100,000. “As the goal got bigger, so did the team,” she laughs. “We were young and it’s a lot of money to raise but we were all in it together and there for each other. And we understood that if we set our minds to something and tried our best, we could create something beautiful, something bigger than all of us.”
With the word “bigger” in mind, it also comes as no surprise that MFH is not going to come to a grinding halt at end-March. “We have many other things in the pipeline, including donation drives, performing arts workshops, teacher training workshops and panel talks,” she says animatedly. “There are a lot of ideas being thrown around now and it has been so exciting to come up with new ways to push our initiative further. MFH isn’t just about moving for Hope Learning Centre. It is about creating a movement while bringing hope to other such communities. We want to spend time shedding light on these issues so that people have an idea of what's going on outside their homes. There’s a lot in store and I can’t wait to share all of our new goals and dreams very soon.”
With MFH’s rallying cry being “Everyone has the right to education”, Amira acknowledges that her own path has been blessed. “Which is why it is important to give back, particularly when one is privileged to do so,” she notes. “I have a roof over my head, clean water, and food on the table. I was able to study abroad, to learn many things and form opinions of my own. My family has given everything to me, so I especially want to give back now, to those who didn’t have the same opportunities I did.”
At press time, MFH had raised over RM85,000 with their end target well in sight if Malaysians continue to be generous and supportive of a good cause. Giving us an inkling of greater things to come, Amira smiles and pointedly states: “This is only the beginning.”
This article first appeared on Mar 1, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.