| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 4 Jan 2016 | Asia Samachar |
by Vishal J.Singh
In the Sikh community, there indeed are courageous princesses walking among us. These women who proudly portray a strong Sikh identity with them have an unmistakable sense of royal–like dignity in their presence, through the way they carry themselves and through the words they speak. We are indeed fortunate to have such fine daughters in our midst, and who we can proudly call sisters in our extended communal Sikh family.
Harnesh Kaur, the current president of the Miss Malaysia Care Association (MMICARE), is one such young lady.
The winner of Miss Malaysia Indian Global Competition 2012 was recently invited to share her experiences at a function oganised by the Nation Building School, a civil society organisation with a stated aim of providing leadership opportunities to aspiring changemakers.
She began the talk in Kuala Lumpur with an inspiring line from the United States talk show queen Oprah Winfrey: “If you don’t know your purpose, your immediate goal is to figure that out.”
Using that as a guide of sorts, this Sarawak born lass began to pursue all her interests with unbridled enthusiasm. She excelled academically and played hockey competitively while schooling in Kuching, Sarawak.
“I used to do kirtan [singing of Sikh hymns] and take part in akhand paths [continuous reading of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib] in Kuching,” she tells Asia Samachar.
Sarawak, one of the 13 states that make up Malaysia, is part of the island of Kalimantan. The tight knit community kept her rooted to her ideals in those days. Her dad is a civil servant with the statistic department.
She then left Sarawak to pursue a degree at the International Medical University (IMU) in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. Four years later, she headed to Singapore to work as a registered nurse for the next three and half years.
Why Singapore? “It was the first hospital that responded to my application.”
But she had no regrets. She says: “It was a good exposure. I had the chance to work with people from various backgrounds. Career wise, the environment was pretty different from that one I had experienced in Malaysia. The expectation and demands were different.”
At some point while in Singapore, she came across the beauty pageant competition. She pursued it with determined gusto, making countless exhausting trips between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur over several months.
“I had to juggle my off-days, negotiate with my superiors to accumulate them. I did more night shifts for that…Nobody likes doing night shift because its tiring,” she says.
After several rigorous rounds of interviews, Harnesh emerged victorious, and was crowned queen in 2012.
But she knew the glamour and fame from winning a competition was only temporary. She turned her attention to social causes.
Harnesh began taking an active role in MMICARE, an alumni of the pageant participants. It endevours to empower young Indian girls to be confident and successful in their lives.
After winning, she was required to undertake a charity project. With her background, it was only natural when she veered to a health-related project. She contacted the Breast Cancer Welfare Association.
“The aim was to organise a health carnival to create awareness on breast cancer,” she says.
She also roped in Malaysian Sikh Women’s Awareness Network Society (SWAN) for the carnival which was held in a mall in Kuala Lumpur in June 2014.
She also had the opportunity to work with the Rohingya refugees, an experience that left her deeply appreciative of her own life.
“We do a lot of personal empowerment programmes. We visit schools to talk to girls. They look up to us as role models. We touch on areas which are usually left untouched,” she says.
Harnesh believes that knowledge is an important arsenal in her armoury, and continuously sought to enhance her knowledge. She has just completed a Masters in Public Health in the same university.
She now works as an occupational health nurse for downstream at Shell.
Vishal J Singh, a contributing writer for Asia Samachar, is also author of a series on Gurdwara Designs. See the most recent article here.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
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