To all the inspiring women that I have met in these past six months, thank you.

To the women who have gone against the societal norm, expectations and against all odds; to the women who have spoken out; who have shown silent strength and defeated every odd against them. To the women who have found strength and resilience when the world turned its back on them. To the women who use their frustration and anger as fuel to take the next step to support the people around them. To the women who remain peaceful and calm in the most frustrating situations. To the women who lead with passion and teach with care and kindness, thank you.

To the powerful women who continue to inspire me – to Andrea, Robyn, Davina, Puan Fatimah, Sakina, Jana, the Kampung women, and the moms of the refugee children, thank you.

Your strength, resilience, power, and ability to support, shelter, and encourage others, all while battling your own demons, is the lesson I will take with me and the strength I hope to carry for the future. I believe there are certain moments in everyone’s life you will never forget – for me, it’s been meeting these women, listening to their stories and learning. I find myself feeling inspired by being surrounded by strong women. From MSRI’s founder, Dr. Alijah Gorden, and hearing stories of her life from Puan Fatimah, who knew her firsthand – is an incredible experience. To go through old photos and understand the beginning of MSRI and the work and effort put into starting this organization is truly an extraordinary experience. Empowering women through reproductive rights by volunteering at FREAH and learning about reproductive rights movements in Malaysia.

So here we are. I’m just starting my final month at MSRI and enjoying and soaking up every last minute. 

All I can think about is how lucky I have been to meet some of the strongest and most impactful people. From working at MSRI to volunteering at FREHA, a reproductive health clinic, watercolour classes, and a salsa dance class, I am grateful. I am thankful for all the moments, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, because every moment has built up to this moment: sitting on my bed eating Pisang Goreng (fried banana) and looking out the window. This seems like a mundane thing to do, but I have realized that there is gratitude, adventure, a lesson and light in every moment. It is just a matter if you want to see it.

I have learnt a lot and grown a lot as a person, and as I start to pack up my suitcase and venture off back to Vancouver, I think to myself, what is the perfect gift I could give to my mom? I think showing her how appreciative I am and how much I have learnt and grown is a priceless gift. I have learnt that the most meaningful thing in life is not an item. It is not something you can see or touch; instead, it’s a feeling. It’s the feeling of empowerment after spending an extra three hours at work talking to Andrea. It’s the feeling of heartache listening to someone’s story of fleeing a country. It’s feeling unsure or discomfort not knowing where you are or what will happen next. It is also the feeling of heartbreak, losing friendship with someone. It’s the feeling of home I feel walking around the streets of Ampang and Brickfields. It’s the gut excitement I felt on the airplane going to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It’s the silent laughter I feel after talking to Brigitte at our dining room table. It is a blessing to feel.

So, my time in Malaysia is coming to an end; however, this story is not coming to an end. I hope to continue the hobbies I picked up here (reading, writing and painting), write letters to my new friends, and never forget the people whom I have met. I will always remember the heavy downfall of rain and noticing how the world stops to enjoy the rain. I will always remember the six flights of stairs I climbed every day to get to the office (perhaps I will not miss this). I will remember the sound of the school bell ringing, followed by the student’s screams. I will always remember saying ‘good morning’ to Uncle at the car wash every single morning. I will always remember all the friendly, familiar faces that I have met along the way. While I cannot remember every moment over these past six months, I have my trusty journal to back me up and remind me of all these beautiful small moments.