Malaysian Heidy Quah to receive Queen's Young Leaders Award
Heidy is being recognised for her efforts in providing education to refugees
Malaysian student Heidy Quah, 23, will receive the Queen's Young Leaders Award in London at the end of this month. Heidy and 59 other winners from Commonwealth countries will be honoured for their community work a ceremony hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
In August 2012 Heidy established Refuge For The Refugees, a non-profit organisation that works to raise awareness of the issues refugees face in Malaysia, and make education more accessible to them. She and her team support eight refugee schools in the Klang Valley, managing volunteer teachers and developing syllabuses.
Heidy does all that while pursuing a degree in finance at Inti International College, Subang Jaya. She told the News Straits Times that she was motivated to help refugees when Chin Children's Education Centre, a school where she volunteered to teach English, faced closure.
"I was about to pursue my tertiary education while those kids were being robbed of their only access to education," she said. "I felt something was not right so I told the headmaster to give me one week to raise funds to keep the school open at least a month and work things out later."
Heidy and her best friend, Andrea Prisha, raised RM12,500 in three months by selling homemade cookies door to door. Of course, her achievements didn't come without challenges. Heidy admitted it was hard to spread her message of love when most Malaysians couldn't understand her mission. "I'm criticised for helping the refugees instead of other underprivileged Malaysians," she told the News Straits Times. "Being young does make it quite a challenge to convince people about what RFTR does and why we should help the refugees."
Before meeting the Queen, Heidy will visit 10 Downing Street and take part in masterclasses and workshops at the BBC, Facebook and the University of Cambridge.
The 2017 edition of the Queen's Young Leaders Award is the second last of its kind; applications for the 2018 Queen's Young Leaders Award open at 9pm British Summer Time on 29 June 2017 (3am Malaysian time on 30 June).