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Portrait For Charity: Safeguarding our children

18th March, 2019


THERE are many ways one can be charitable to others.

And being charitable towards one another is not just “a nice thing to do”; it is an imperative for people’s survival as humans, and well-being as a local and global community.

In London, as the winter grip is loosening, a group of Malaysians were warming up their hearts for charity – sharing their gifts and talents that they are passionate about.

Led by Mohd Hafiz Zainol Shokor, a team of professional photographers from the Alliance of Social Action Photography (ASAP) were setting their high tech equipment, lighting and a classic backdrop, preparing for an eventful day – Portrait for Charity, at the Malaysia Hall in Bayswater.

Hafiz was assisted by his ASAP teammates, Nik Azmi, Suffian Ariff, Saman Karamdaneh and Zhi Cong Tay. On the occasion, ASAP is helping Sabah English Aspiration Society (SEAS) to sponsor activities organised by SEAS, namely English Clinic and English Camp.

SEAS is a non-profit association that was established by Dr Zainab Kassim to improve proficiency and mastery of the English language amongst rural schoolchildren in Sabah.


Hafiz who is an ardent professional photographer, was more than happy to use his talent to help Sabahans. He even donated some books during the event.

He shared with New Sabah Times that he once had shot a wedding in Kota Kinabalu a long time ago and their hospitality really touched his heart.

“The people of Sabah that I have met always have been very kind, good and generous.

“Worth mentioning, my tutor who recommended me to continue studying photography here in London is a Sabahan,” said Hafiz who is now in the final year Bachelor of Photography at the University of the Arts, London (UAL).

UAL is the world’s Top 6 Universities for Art & Design 2018. The university has a diverse community of over 18,000 students from 129 countries. UAL graduates go on to work in and shape creative industries worldwide. He further said that he always had a soft spot for Sabah.

“I have been brought up hearing stories of my father who conquered Gunung Kinabalu four times when he was young. The story indirectly has made us challenge ourselves to reach the top as well. My younger brother had done it while he was working as a doctor in Tawau Hospital two years ago.

“Although I have never reached the top of Kinabalu yet, I had gone scuba diving at the Barracuda Point, Pulau Sipadan which is one of the top ten dive sites in the world, a couple of years ago. Later, my younger brother had done it as well,” he recalled.

Asked about his passion, Hafiz said, photography to him is not just about telling a story or conveying a message, it is a learning tool to figure out and think critically about what is actually happening to this complex world.

The humble man showed his generosity through his commitment to raise money for SEAS with pure intentions, and hoped that more people will be aware about the ongoing noble effort to help rural schoolchildren in Sabah. And truly, photography can leave a profound impact!


The event turned to success and Dr Zainab said SEAS is very grateful to ASAP for organising Portrait for Charity in London.

“Families and individuals enjoyed their pictures taken by professionals. It was amazing how photography can assist in charity and humanitarian work.

“Both SEAS and ASAP would like to thank Education Malaysia UK and Eire for kindly allowing the use of its facilities,” she said in a recent interview.

Dr Zainab also pointed out that the event received overwhelming response and SEAS also received more books donated by many kind-hearted individuals.

SEAS was officially registered in July 2017. A month after its official registration, SEAS conducted its flagship ‘English Camp’ programme which was attended by 136 pupils from 13 schools in Membakut and Kuala Penyu. The most recent English camp in 2018 was attended by 140 students from 11 schools and for this year, the English camp will be held in August.

SEAS had also successfully launched ‘SEAS English Corner’ in October 2017 which benefited not only SK Pg Jaya Pimping, Membakut but also the people in the neighbouring villages.

To date, SEAS has managed to raise over 10,000 free books, mainly from Malaysians living in the UK, and most of the books were put at the SEAS English Corner building.

Last year, SEAS had embarked on ‘Seeds of The Future Initiative’ which is a collaborative project with Maybank Sabah involving 15 rural schools.

This maiden project was launched in September 2018 and aims to benefit 800 primary 6 students sitting for UPSR this year.

For the rural schoolchildren, the noble effort gave them hope for a better future. Thanks to ASAP, the portraits become treasured reminders for SEAS of their strength and determination to keep going in helping the schoolchildren.

For others, it develops awareness and creates opportunities to stand together and make a difference.

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