They say the third time’s a charm but Dr. Kajel Kaur Gill, who was crowned Miss Earth Malaysia 2022 and has participated in the pageant for the fourth time, says otherwise!
Born and bred in Ipoh, Dr. Kajel is the first Punjabi Sikh to represent the country as Miss Earth Malaysia. Only 26 years young, she has achieved so much and her effort to help improve the livelihood of our always forgotten four-legged best friends living off the streets is still ongoing.
A holder of degrees for Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, she told Ipoh Echo that her burning passion for animals is what led her to the journey of becoming a doctor and pageant.
“My love for medicine started at a very early age when I used to give my dogs medication and tie bandages on them when they were ill. It’s safe to say that they are a very big reason for my decision to pursue medicine. I didn’t want to pursue veterinary sciences because along with my passion to heal the sick, I love interacting with people,” she shared.
Her vivacious self belies a strong determination. Things came into play when she found joy in helping animals, especially vulnerable ones, allowing her to bring home the most valuable lessons. “I learned about love, friendship and loyalty from my dogs. I was always made fun of even in school and university for running off to feed any stray dog or cat that I saw.”
Most of us have tissues or water tumblers in our cars, but Dr. Kajel keeps food for stray animals in hers to make sure they won’t stay on an empty stomach.
To enjoy life is to live it to the fullest and Dr. Kajel’s way of life is to give food to those who need it. What’s yours? We want a clean and hygienic environment with no trash cluttering on the road or animals rummaging through the rubbish. But how much have we done to solve the problem?
Being part of the pageant is a step forward to fulfil Dr. Kajel’s purpose as the Miss Earth title would give her a platform to carry out one of her life’s biggest goals, which is to ensure that every stray cat and dog in Malaysia has a home and shelter.
The population of stray animals is going up, even more so during this pandemic where many pet owners have chosen to give up their canine and feline companions and abandon them on the streets.
Dr. Kajel, who is also a newly certified Real Estate negotiator, is looking into registering her very own NGO, ‘No Strays On Streets’ to ensure the animals are fed, vaccinated, rescued, neutered and re-homed.
She is the perfect example of the phrase go big or go home! Here’s why.
Under the global advocacy to promote sustainable development, being a Miss Earth, she has put herself on a path of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns by helping companies get involved in CSR projects associated with the environment.
As an animal feeder for many years, she hopes excess food can be properly handled to reduce food wastage, such that restaurants and caterers can actively donate leftovers or unwanted food to the animal shelters that need rice, animal bones and meat.
“I want major companies to switch to more green alternatives. I look forward to campaigning the use of recyclable bags when shopping. I believe that all major retail stores should promote this more, because single-use plastic is a major cause of pollution. I believe we have talked about this a lot, yet many still forget to bring along their shopping bags and still opt for buying plastic bags. I myself always carry along a recyclable bag wherever I go. As a doctor, I believe we should do whatever it takes to ensure that we create a healthy environment for all beings.
“I also look forward to advocating about food wastage. I would love to start a conversation about what happens to all the food that is thrown out of restaurants, malls and what initiatives can be done to avoid such wastage. I hope to see Malaysia adopt a law that helps fight food waste, where it is forbidden to destroy unsold food products and businesses are instead compelled to donate them. This is like what France did in 2016.
“Besides that, I would like to address the issue of endangered animals in our country. I have always wanted to be part of Malaysia’s initiatives to protect endangered animals. In particular, I want to get involved with WWF-Malaysia and their initiatives to protect elephants. I see elephants the same way I see stray dogs; they are kind, they are loving towards humans who are nice to them and a good deed done to them is remembered for a lifetime. Every year, many elephants are killed because they are targeted for their tusks and other inhumane reasons, or for merely crossing territories.
“There are only 1,500 elephants left in Borneo and less than 2,000 left in peninsular Malaysia. They are losing their habitat due to displacement by large scale agriculture and plantations, or for coming into more contact with people thus increasing human-elephant conflict due to loss and fragmentation of forests. How we can help is by raising donations so that WWF Malaysia can: conduct elephant satellite collaring to identify their key space requirements and to reduce future conflict; establish wildlife corridors to connect fragmented habitats; promote coexistence between humans and wildlife; collaborate with government and non-government agencies on wildlife surveys, research and capacity building for protected area management,” she emphasised.
My dogs are the main reason I wake up in the morning wanting to do more for this Earth. They are the kindest creatures I know and I cannot imagine my life without them. My dogs are my life. – Dr. Kajel Kaur