Partner Profile: In Malaysia, Youth Use Mapping to Address Religious Understanding

August 28, 2012
Part of <a href="/internewsnext">InternewsNext</a>, a series highlighting 30 youth-led media initiatives.

Kota Kita, a youth advocacy organization in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is conducting a series of interactive mapping projects for youth. Young, trained volunteers explore and learn about their communities on foot, noting and logging religious institutions into an online map that highlights the cultural and religious diversity of the area.

"It's a fun and rewarding experience,” said Tay Zhi Cong, an 18-year-old student participant. “I learned about the Hindu religion more in-depth and you start to see the whole picture of the religion. All the rituals and special things in the temples, I have not known it before."

Religion can be a sensitive topic in Malaysia, a majority-Muslim country that is home to a diverse range of ethnicities and religious beliefs. The project is oriented towards dialogue and cross-cultural understanding through media and the arts.

Participants produce photographs, videos, journals and community exhibitions that will be used for educational purposes by the community, public and NGOs.

Brickfields, one of the oldest, most colorful and interesting areas in Kuala Lumpur, was the first area of exploration, home to more than a dozen places of worship, with structures as old as 103-years-old.

"I think this is definitely an eye-opening experience for me,” said Ng Yah Tyng, a 24-year-old student. “Talking to people who actually practices [Hinduism] for so long and seeing somebody who believes in his faith so much, teaches me a lot of things; not just about my own religion, but like the same way I was passionate about my religion, I see the same passion he has for his religion.” Tyng is a Buddhist.

Kota Kita designs, organizes, trains and runs community projects using creative arts. Established in 2010, Kota Kita is run by a group of art workers and media practitioners. Kota Kita’s mission is to empower and facilitate members of a community towards personal development, and to enrich their relationship with the community through creative mediums.

Follow the mapping project through Kota Kita sites on Facebook and  Tumblr, and through the Projek Dialog web site, a joint effort among several organizations to organize activities and inspire conversations around diversity and tolerance.