A labour of love

WHAT started out for Ahmad Iszuddin Ahmad Izham as a fundraiser to purchase a video game, grew into something for a far nobler cause.

“I started to raise funds by baking to buy a PS4; that was last year, when I didn’t know about endangered animals. Baking was the first thing that my mum taught me in the kitchen, so that was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of raising funds,” the young lad recounted.

In February this year, his world changed when his science teacher showed his class a couple of videos about the leatherback sea turtles and how humans may well be on course for causing their imminent extinction, which is estimated to happen in six years.

Saddened and shaken, Iszuddin declared that he needed to do something about it. Adding on to his enthusiasm was that he learned about money, business and charity at a workshop, and decided that he should go ahead with his decision.

Since then, the 11-year-old has been channelling his baking efforts to give 20% of the profits to the Turtle Conservation Society, and uses the rest of it to purchase ingredients for the cookies, while keeping a portion of it for his education funds.

To date, he has successfully raised over RM600 for the conservation funds. He also got to share about his mission with his school, and even on major media outlets in the country.

How do you balance everything that you are doing?
My mum, sister, and our house helper helps me bake the cookies. I’m also only allowed to bake for two hours during the weekends, and the rest is for play!

Do you plan to do this for a long time? Will animal saving always be something that you want to do?
Yes, I might. In six years, I want to know whether the leatherback turtles are saved or not, so I might be doing this until I’m 17. But I don’t know what I want to do after that – I have not put much thought into it. I just want to study hard, and make my parents proud.

Do you have a message for the public?
Care about animals, that’s all. Also, think of when they are hungry and how they feel. Animals feel pain. For example, turtles eat jellyfish. Imagine if you are a turtle that is choking to death, just because you mistake a plastic bag for jellyfish.

What is next on your turtle saving mission?
We are planning to organise a discovery camp with friends to Terengganu this month. We hope to visit a turtle conservation centre to see how the turtle eggs and turtles are being taken care of. It will also be around my birthday too, which falls on August 7.

There is also the RM20 campaign. If you noticed, there is an image of the leatherback turtle at the back of the RM20 note. This is for people who would like to support the cause without purchasing the cookies – they can donate RM20 into the conservation funds.

Are there any other animals that you would like to save?
I would like to save tigers. According to my science teacher, they might go extinct in the next 50 years.