Greetings from Malaysia!
When we‘re not out enjoying the local cuisine or supporting trademark infringement in Chinatown (just kidding), we keep pretty busy with our work at ERA Consumer. ERA is an NGO that first began with a focus on consumer rights, but has expanded in recent years to include a variety of human rights issues. Through research, education and advocacy, ERA works to empower communities across the country.
Our main project since arriving in Malaysia has been working on a Child Rights Manual which will be used to educate children throughout the country. Beyond this, we‘ve also been participating in various activities with ERAs many partner organizations. For example, this weekend we helped FOMCA (The Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations) with some of their consumer education programs targeted towards children. Unfortunately, this required a scenic five hour drive to beautiful Penang Island. But, we understand that sometimes life is tough!
Once in Penang, we accompanied the FOMCA staff to two local primary schools where they gave brief talks to 11 and 12 year-old students about consumer rights. Because our Malay language skills have yet to be perfected, we helped with the set-up and took pictures, rather than actually teaching the children. We did however, talk to the kids about who we were and what we were doing, and when we introduced ourselves and said we were from New York and California, the students‘ jaws dropped and they were squealing with excitement!
We also helped out with two coloring competitions arranged for school children at local hypermarkets. Students were separated into three age groups and given 90 minutes to color a picture with a consumer rights message. Coloring was then judged based on their ability to highlight the message and also their coloring skills. The competition was surprisingly fierce, and the extremely intense and overeager parents provided some serious entertainment, to say the least!
All in all, we are really enjoying our time (and the food) here in Malaysia and are learning a lot. Hope everyone is enjoying their experiences as much as we are and we look forward to seeing you all in a few short weeks!