On Wednesday, the 9th of August 2017, the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University Malaysia, organised their annual NGO Day! The NGO Day saw 17 NGOs setting up booths in the Monash foyer, including Amnesty International, Tenaganita, Pink Triangle Foundation, National Cancer Society, Generasi Gemilang, Women’s Aid Organisation, The Nasi Lemak Project, and many others.

Following the arrival of the NGO representatives, a group photo was taken, and the event officially began. Besides the NGOs booths, other events were happening concurrently. Dr Carmelo Ferlito, from the IDEAS Academy presented a talk entitled ‘Income Inequality: Myths and Truths’, a film called Gadoh was screened, organized in collaboration with Nasi Bungkus Cinema and Freedom Film Festival, and Nick Foong, Director of Services from Generasi Gemilang spoke to a class full of Monash students about giving back to society.

Dating back almost 8 years, the NGO Day allows students the opportunity to meet with NGO representatives and learn about their work. Dr Jonathan Driskell,  the event’s organiser, sees a dual benefit to organising the NGO Day: it provides a platform for NGOs to share their work with the student community and also offers students the opportunity to gain insight into the realities of social issues and the work that NGOs do. In interacting with the NGOs, students also have the chance to learn about internship opportunities, in order to supplement their learning, garner some work experience and build their CVs.

“I think it’s important for students to be exposed to these NGOs as the work they do relates to theories and issues discussed in class, and grounds these discussions in something more tangible ”- Jonathan Driskell

The Nasi Lemak Project (TNLP), an NGO that helps people in need, such as single mothers, sell their products and goods, while also providing tuition for children. They encourage youth participation in in their work because such contributions make their efforts more successful. Kak Wati, the representative at the booth, attributes this to the relevant, and innovative ideas that youths contribute to TNLP. Kelvin Ang, an advocacy officer of Women’s Aid Organisation, a women’s rights NGO, believes that youth can participate and further the mission and vision of WAO through ways extending beyond volunteering. He states; “All youth can further the cause for gender equality by making the effort to understand and speak out against issues like gender violence, abuse, sexual assault and other gender inequalities”.

To conclude the NGO Day, a Blind Futsal Tournament took place in the evening, in which staff members, the Team Monash futsal team, and the National Blind Futsal Team (Pan-Disability Football Club) played futsal matches against each other. This event was designed to raise awareness about the Pan-Disability Football Club’s social causes and mission, while also highlighting the existence of the blind national team and raising funds for the organisation. 

All in all, it was a fun, meaningful event. Dr Jonathan Driskell hopes that students who participated in the NGO Day learned how to look at issues from a different perspective, and were motivated to engage fully with the social causes championed by these NGOs.