By Jennifer Anne Sharp, Community Development Officer at SOLS 24/7 Sembrong
The hall was big and loud. Children ran up and down the aisles and between the rows. The teenagers sat at the back conspiring and chatting, out of the earshot of adults.
The adults, meanwhile, greeted each other as they came in, and sat talking with brown paper packets of fried noodles on their laps.
Around 50 people came to Paloh’s Eco Movie night. These 50 people were somewhere between the ages of 5 and 67; with different ethnicities, different nationalities and different social backgrounds. As the movies were introduced, these 50 people grew quieter.
This screening was organised by SOLS 24/7, an education and community empowerment NGO operating throughout Asia. Through the centre in Paloh, Kluang, and 46 other community centres throughout Malaysia, SOLS provides free English language classes and community empowerment programmes to anyone who wishes to get involved.
It was as a part of these community empowerment programmes that SOLS Sembrong came to collaborate with Eco Knights. The goal was to raise awareness and promote engagement in the varied and serious environmental issues facing Malaysia today.
Over the course of one evening, the attendees of Paloh’s own mini Eco Film festival watched 5 brilliant short environmental films.
We were cautioned against the damage caused by plastic bags, and the horrors of illegal wildlife poaching. We were advised how to reduce our own carbon footprint and we learned of the struggle for sustainability on remote Malaysian islands. Finally, we learned about the human cost of deforestation in ‘Sunset over Selungo.’
The films were creative in their explanations and engaging in their visuals.
Once the films ended, the hall was loud again. People were chatting about what they had seen, and what they had thought. The evening had brought together people from all sectors of the community and engaged us all in the world of environmentalism for one night.
The films engaged people in the human story of environmental issues. They engaged people on the scale of a single human life, and the scale of the entire planet. They brought challenging and complex issues into the worlds of the audience and created emotional responses that perhaps no other medium can.
We hope now, as a community, to use this engagement to make lasting changes in our environmental behaviour.
To find out more about SOLS 24/7 go to www.sols247.org