Madan Saravanapavan wants to take photographs that capture imagination while Mohamad Nurkhalis Bin Mohd Sadikin strives to be an impassioned orator. The support from NatSteel will propel the two youths closer to their dreams.
Madan has popliteal pterygium syndrome, a condition that causes webbing of the skin at the joints, and the 18-year-old uses a motorised wheelchair to get around. This has not stopped him from going outdoors and pursuing his interest in photography. He is in his school’s multi-media club, and with his club mates, they help out with the school’s website, posters and event photography.
Madan’s mother, Mdm Vejaya, has been very encouraging and supportive. “Our relatives will ask Madan to take photos at their events,” she beamed. “He is also good at drawing. The portraits he drew were very life-like,” she added, taking pride in Madan’s talents.
Taking photographs from a wheelchair poses some challenges. He may not be able to get a vantage point when setting up for the photo-shoot. Nevertheless, the challenges and inconvenience have not doused his interest in photography.
Madan has been using his mobile phone to take photographs. With the NatSteel Empowerment Award, he looks forward to getting a proper camera, which could produce better quality images. “We didn’t think we would receive this award. I am really happy for Madan,” said Mdm Vejaya.
Besides sponsoring the award, a few NatSteel staff will mentor and provide guidance to the recipients in the course of the year, helping them to widen their social and economic networks and opportunities.
“This is going to be a very wonderful and enriching experience for us to be the youths’ mentors. Not only are we able to guide and share our personal experiences, we could also learn from them by hearing their views,” said Madan’s mentor, Ms Tan Man Ee, senior vice president of Building Solutions at NatSteel. “Our first meeting was very engaging and meaningful. It was very heart-warming when we saw that he is very brave and very thoughtful to others,” she added.
The other recipient, 17-year-old Mohamad Nurkhalis bin Mohamad Sadikin, or Khalis to his family and friends, has moderate hearing loss and wears hearing aids. He is currently pursuing a diploma in materials science. He chose this course because he is always curious about how things work. He likes to examine things at times by taking them apart and assembling them back.
Khalis shared that he got to know about the NatSteel Empowerment Award when he received the NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Awards last year and decided to apply for it. Receiving the award came as a pleasant surprise for Khalis. “I was pretty much shocked, as I never thought I would get it,” he said.
Khalis expressed his desire to overcome his fear of speaking in front of crowds so that he could articulate his thoughts and ideas better and to motivate other youths like him. He has several options to utilise his award, including taking up courses to develop himself personally and professionally, in particular, his public speaking skills; maintaining his hearing aids, which is an important piece of assistive technology device that he uses daily, as well as investing in a laptop for his studies. As for non-academic skills, he wishes to improve his baking techniques and acquire better baking equipment, so as to help his mother bake cakes and cookies during the festive seasons.
“I am delighted to meet Khalis who is all eager to join his polytechnic and has a head full of dreams, which we could help to fulfil,” shared Mr Ganesh Krishnaswamy, NatSteel’s senior vice president of Information Technology. “We hope to be of assistance to Khalis in supporting him to choose a suitable future career path, while nurturing some of his interests.” “I would like to encourage him to continue to believe in himself as he has shown so far, to continue with determination and he would be able to overcome all obstacles,” said Mr Ganesh.
The NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Awards has enabled students with disabilities to focus on their education in mainstream schools by providing financial support to their families. To further encourage youths with disabilities to strive towards their aspirations, the NatSteel-SPD Empowerment Awards were launched this year and given to two recipients of the bursary programme, so that they could pursue their dreams beyond academics in the areas of sports, visual or performing art, community engagement, technology or social media, life skills or other interests.