I walk through the garden of privilege when many crawl the thorny path of destitution.
Where I am from, the people are silenced. I was taught not to question authority. The marginalized communities are forced to assimilate and to let go of their nativity for the sake of survival. It is a norm for Southeast Asians to abide by the ruthless government policies and I was one of them.
I found my voice and saw the world through a new lens during the lockdown of 2020. I saw that the global community was silenced by the Western hegemony just as I was. However, the lockdown sparked a lot of conversations that were once taboo. The booming of youth-led organizations based entirely online provided platforms for everyone to speak their mind: it encourages everyone to spark a conversation. This phenomenon was alien to many, including myself. I then started joining and getting actively involved with these organizations.
Many of these organizations were then forced to go on hiatus when lockdown measures eased. But the Indigenous Foundation pushed through gracefully. I have now been a part of the Foundation for 3 years. In the first year of its inception, I was involved predominantly in writing and wrote or co-wrote many infographics and articles.
The volunteer culture within this organization was inviting. Despite our massive time differences, all were accommodated. Everyone’s opinions and ideas were incorporated into content creation and further valued. We had a genuine friendship outside of the organizational work where I have personally invited the founders to speak in an event that I was spearheading last year. However, what took the cake was the cause that we all worked together for– amplifying Indigenous communities and perspectives on the world stage.
As a writer and researcher for the Indigenous Foundation, I have shifted the focus of this organization towards Asia Pacific. The Indigenous Foundation focuses more on the Indigenous communities in the Western hemisphere. Therefore, I thought it would be refreshing to also give a platform for Indigenous people in the Asia Pacific. That's exactly the idea behind my first write-up for The Indigenous Foundation where I designed infographics and bite sized pieces on the Indigenous struggle in Australia.
My first project for the Indigenous Foundation was on Australia’s Justice system that pushed its Indigenous people (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) way behind the rest of the Australian population. My interest on this particular topic deepened as I doom-scrolled through YouTube: this was way back before TikTok, when watching documentaries on YouTube was a popular pastime.
Many of my write ups were inspired by YouTube documentaries. However, I was majorly interested in the Australian justice system as Australia is geographically close to me: I live in Malaysia. I was initially exposed to Australian Aboriginals and their struggles over 5 years ago. It was in the year 2017 when I first heard of the word “Aboriginal “from a good Australian Aboriginal friend that I met on Twitter. They sometimes also post on Aboriginal discrimination in the land down south. This was also when I discovered the disparity between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people, not just in Australia but across the world.
My first article for the Indigenous Foundation was on the Indigenous community in Malaysia. Here I dwell upon the alienation of these communities by the Malaysian government. Researching on this topic made me realize that the resources on Malaysian Indigenous communities are scarcely online. However, it only made me dig deeper into the discourse. I was set on a mission to personally get in touch with the Indigenous communities through social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn. It was not easy, but it was certainly worthwhile.
This year marks my second year with The Indigenous Foundation, and I am happy to have witnessed impactful actions taken by the organization in fighting for Indigenous struggles. Seeing our impact digitally, our team is now working actively on the ground; reaching out to important individuals and officials to carve a change in the Canadian and American education systems. I had the privilege to be a part of the US Task Force under the Indigenous Foundation where I worked together with my team to establish Indigenous studies as university courses across the USA. This is a group of global youth working together for the empowerment of Indigenous communities irrespective of cultural and geographical differences. This is what sets the Indigenous Foundation apart from many youth-led organizations out there, we mobilize impact across the planet.
As an education activist and a writer by profession, I really do stand by the empowerment of youth around the globe especially providing youth storytellers and researchers active spaces in academia. It is crucial to update and broaden the field of academia by including underrepresented communities. As a writer, my journey has only expanded and deepened into not just giving a platform for marginalized communities but also to work actively on the ground to spark a change.