Harun Rahamad from ITE College East is an excellent example of someone who has not let his limitations deters him from pursuing his passion. Despite being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth, he continues to participate actively in community service projects, Community Chest Fundraising, and even indulge in various sport activities. A Lee Kuan Yew CCA Award Recipient, Harun is well-loved by his friends and teachers, largely for his contagious warm smile and his persistent initiatives for environmental preservation..
Let’s have a talk with Harun to learn more about his journey and motivation for playing his part for the environment.
What activities or projects related to the environment in general and water in particular have you been involved in at ITE?
One of the earlier projects that I participated was in 2011. Then, I had the opportunity of participating in a green project whereas we planted seedlings behind our school. The activity was part of our Youth Expedition Project and was supported by eco-focused corporations. There are various other environmental projects going on at ITE in recent years as well.
For the recent Singapore World Water Day, I was very involved in the ITE’s Water Badges project. In less than a month, I joined the rest of my school mates from my school as well as other ITE institutions in making 10,000 badges. What made this even more special was the unique water message that came with each badge! Each of us perceives water differently and thus, we truly enjoyed the opportunity to be able to translate our thoughts and hopes for the water cause as part of the badge design. Many ITE staff and eco clubs were involved too. For me, I was in charge of the badge pressing machines and had to make sure that the badges were done properly and well-presented. I am glad that these badges eventually made their way to the hands of visitors and patients at Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital.
Participation in the Water Badges project was voluntary; sometimes people would not show up or be late and some of us ended up covering for those who were unable to make it. But overall, it brought us closer for a common cause. My classmates in particular supported me wholeheartedly, and I was very happy to have all 40 of them supporting and joining me in this meaningful project. We were also grateful for the heart-warming encouragement and support that we received from the public. Ultimately I have learnt that if we can do something for a good cause we can always rely on people with good hearts to contribute.
ITE has been very active in contributing for the water cause, what do you personally think is the driving force behind ITE’s effort?
I think the most important factors are individuals who wish to make changes and do things differently. There are people like me, who want to contribute as much as they can. There are people who do not mind spending their personal time and effort to volunteer if it is for a good cause, and people who are always willing to be at the “backstage”, supporting us with other resources for such projects. At ITE, we are very fortunate to have active teachers and fellow students who are always there to push our ideas and projects forward, stretching our limits and believing in us. At the end of the day, I believe it is the people here who are the ultimate driving force of ITE, grooming us into resilient adults to overcome future challenges.
We are glad to hear that you and the rest of your classmates have a strong support from your teachers. We are even more heartened to know that you and your friends actually volunteered your time and efforts for the water cause. But what actually motivates you to do so?
Personally, I feel very privileged to be able to enjoy accessible drinking water at a flick of the tap. And I know that this is something that people of previous generations and in certain parts of the world could only dream of.
This spurred me to help developing countries improve their deprived state and I would very much like to be part of a research team one day, to further water conservation strategies and filtration systems, and make them affordable and practical enough to be used by the unfortunate people in poorer parts of the world. I might still be a student but I always believe that all little things that I do, learning and giving back to the water cause is meaningful, not only to me personally but also to the community. Just because what I can contribute may not be very significant to others does not mean I should stop doing it.