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Little island boy on mission to save lives under the sea

PETALING JAYA: Mogesh Sababathy remembers the best days of his life, running round on the beach of the idyllic Labuan island.

But he always had his eyes on the sea, or what was under its surface. It was marine life that interested him.

Now 23, Mogesh is a young marine biologist and has been named a finalist in the Commonwealth Youth Awards 2021 for his work on the sustainable development of “Life Below Water”

Mogesh is the embodiment of the old Shell advertising slogan – a child is an island of curiosity surrounded by a sea of question marks

He spent about six years living on the island of Labuan where his parents served in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) from 2004.

It was the most impressionable years of a growing child, between the ages of six and 12.

“We were surrounded by the ocean and I used to spend much time on the beach there. This sparked my interest in life in the sea, especially what’s below the surface,” he told FMT.

Mogesh, who graduated from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, said he used to be upset about the large amount of waste littering the shores and spoiling the beauty of pristine beaches in Labuan. That led to his desire to help preserve the environment.

Mogesh’s project that took him to the finals of the Awards is focused on the sustainable development goal (SDG) of “Life Below Water”.

According to the Commonwealth website, Mogesh, 23, is among inventors, activists and entrepreneurs from 18 countries who have been shortlisted. The winners will be announced on March 10.

“I am a co-founder of the Ocean Hope Project, a youth-led group that aims to raise the visibility of ocean issues and environmental conservation through campaigns and youth leadership training.

“Awareness among Malaysians on the importance of keeping our oceans clean is not that high as many of us are taking this God-given natural wealth for granted,” he said.

The Ocean Hope group has run educational community projects to reduce littering and unsustainable fishing practices, and an ocean literacy webinar series on waste management, reaching over 10,000 individuals across 15 countries.

Mogesh said he was nominated by the Malaysian Youth Council for the award and said that being a finalist in this prestigious competition was in itself an endorsement that Malaysians can excel, adding that such news was welcome during the grim pandemic.

“Winning it will be icing on the cake. It will put Malaysia on the map of oceanography. This will spur me to work harder to do more in this field,” he said.

But winning the prestigious award is not uppermost on his mind now. The impact of Covid-19 on society is. Over the past four months, Mogesh has been engaged as a research assistant in a Covid-19 project undertaken by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

“It’s a pilot project that is studying the effects of Covid-19 on pregnant women and newborns. The team expects to come up with some findings by the middle of the year,” he said.

The Commonwealth Youth Awards 2021 results will be announced through an online ceremony with the overall winner standing to win a trophy and £5,000 (about RM28,000) while the regional winner gets £3,000 (RM16,700). Each of the finalist will also be given a trophy and £1,000 (RM5,600).

Full article: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/02/06/little-island-boy-on-mission-to-save-lives-under-the-sea/?fbclid=IwAR181ZBfMc7C4WmRI5VDoTNlXRff5p16YZiTdu407f1CBAju1MKhTtpzUPA

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