The Sathya Sai International Organisation of Malaysia (SSIOM) – Perak Chapter recently organised a Walk for Values with a special theme “Be A Buddy, Not a Bully to Mankind, Animal & Nature”, aimed at raising awareness and curbing the culture of bullying and violence, especially among children and youths.
The event, held on August 25 in collaboration with the Ipoh City Council and Ipoh Car Free Day Team, was launched and flagged-off by Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, the Perak State Executive Councillor for Education, Environment, Green Technology and Information, and attracted about 1000 multi-racial, multi-ethnic participants.
Walk for Values is an annual programme organised by many countries such as Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia. In Malaysia, the initiative has been around since 2009 and over the years, it has promoted various themes such as environmental care, education, and community care, community empowerment and more.
This is the second time the state of Perak is organising the event which was initiated in 2017 after the painful demise of Malaysian youth Nhaveen due to unwarranted torture and bullying by his peers.
“Nhaveen’s death had triggered a public outcry. We wanted to do something for people like Nhaveen, Zulfarhan, Thaqif and many more who have been victims of bullying. It is important for society to intervene and fight against such uncivil acts. We want to send a clear messaging that bullying, discrimination and violence of any sort is an act of crime and are not to be encouraged,” said Mr Ajit Arujunan, the organising chairperson of the event.
“Bully culture appears to be subtly ingrained in the community and it is apparent from the acts of gangsterism, and peer pressure that leads to physical, mental and emotional abuse. Interestingly, it can also materialise in the form of animal abuse, destruction of nature and irresponsible behaviour that inconveniences others. This is the reason why we chose the theme,” said co-organising chairperson Mr Ruvanesh Aravind Vejayan.
Throughout the walk, children aged 7 to 17 also demonstrated their keen interest in doing their bit as a ‘Buddy’. They walked with placards displaying various messages according to the theme, and some even dressed up in creative costumes made from 3R materials.
Apart from walking along the designated path around Ipoh City, the organising committee had organised performances and entertainment which included a flash mob session, a grand float displaying the five essentials human values (i.e. Love, Truth, Peace, Non-Violence and Righteousness), and a special performance by the youths in conjunction with Merdeka Day.
A booth was also set up to garner pledges from participants to be a buddy and about 170 participants had their hands stamped with different colours representing each of five essential human values. The majority opted for the colour green, which represented the value of Peace, indirectly sending a message that peaceful thoughts and acts are the best way to counter bullying and violence.
During the walk, the 1000-people entourage led by Perak State Coordinator, Mr Ramakershinan Nalliah, centre Chairpersons and their respective wing coordinators received a pleasant surprise as Perak State Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu and Datuk Bandar Ipoh, Dato’ Ahmad Suaidi Abdul Rahim made a surprise appearance to acknowledge the initiative.
The 4km walk was also joined by 130 students from SMK Tarcisian Convent, SMK Sg Pari, SMK Buntong and SMK Raja Perempuan and Cosmopoint College.