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Phang Oi Mei

Now more than ever, we need to start preserving the environment. Many think of themselves as too small or insignificant to make an impact, but actions should not only come from large industries. It begins from educating the minds of the young on what is happening globally, and instilling good eco-friendly habits in them that will in turn benefit the planet in the long run.

Phang Oi Mei, a headmistress of a primary school, leads by example by getting her hands dirty in environmental preservation along with her students and teachers. One of her first projects with the school was to discourage the use of plastic bags and containers. Of course, it was met with complaints as using plastic is a convenient choice. However, trusting her conscience, she persevered and is grateful to see that not only her students but their parents and communities as a whole have started changing their minds and are now more invested in environmental preservation.

Her spirit of protecting the environment definitely does not stop at only ending plastic usage. As part of her environmentally-friendly project, she also encourages her students to not use pesticides in their plants. This was difficult in the beginning as pesticides are the fastest way to get rid of pests but her students slowly learnt natural ways of keeping pests away. The joy of creating a safe habitat for other harmless inhabitants of the garden was ingrained in them. Phang hopes her students will pass this knowledge to their own family members, friends, and relatives.

Born in the 70s in a village, Phang Oi Mei often reflects how she used to sleep in the cool air at night, having to cover herself with a blanket despite not owning a fan. She finds it odd that she now needs to turn on the air-conditioner to sleep comfortably at night. She connects this transformation to our actions; carbon footprint and non-recycling that causes climate change. Habits need to be moulded from a young age, hence Phang wants to influence her primary school students for the better.

Phang Oi Mei sees herself continuing her recycling and environmental protection work even after she retires by working with schools and communities to encourage them to save the earth.

“I strongly believe that a wonderful Earth is the best asset that we can leave for our next generation,” she concluded.