M ISS EARTH www.missearth.tv
A SHAAN-SHINE for SUSTAINABILITY
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How the foundation started. Michala’s uncle, Dan Rubinstein, initiated the project and according to him, “When me and my wife got married in 2007 and moved to Finland, she saw how Finland is doing the Early Childhood education and how much more de- veloped children are compared especially to Thai countryside children. She asked me, could we do something to help the young children in her village? I promised to help find out if the Finnish model could be adapted. We decided to try by starting a pilot project in one of the poorest schools. We said, if we can make a change in this school, it can be done in any school in Thailand, where about 70 countries' education is compared. Thailand is among the weakest countries, according to the PISA Assessment .”
Preschool students learn English through the famous Finnish Moomin Language School Program
The foundation believes that to be successful in developing children, the development must start immediately after birth, as for example the three (3) first years are the most critical ones when developing cognitive (brain) skills. That is why we call the program Zero-to-Hero Development Program. We found 4 areas to focus on: 1. Healthiness - in-order to be able to create value to your community, you must be both mentally and physically healthy 2. Educated - right mix of knowledge, skills, behavior, and brain development 3. Responsibility - like in many countries, money runs everything, and people have started to forget about right and wrong, and bring back the sense of responsibility at least to the young generation 4. Open-mindedness - in the countryside there is almost no development happening, as people say no to new thoughts, so they wanted to teach the young to also see other opportunities When taking the first letters from the 4 topics, you get the word HERO , that is why they want to develop new HERO’s. As it is a charity program, they started the Zero-to-Hero Foundation to help to finance their Pilot Program in Huana School.
ME Magazine : How do you see yourself collaborating with your family's foundation in line with your advocacies as a titleholder? Michala : I definitely see a huge correlation between my advocacy as a titleholder, and my family's foundation. I can’t wait till the travel restrictions open up again, so I can once more travel to visit their school in Thailand. I'd love to teach the children English and just generally help out while I'm there. I’m in constant awe of their work ethics and sacrifices to make a difference for these young children. I've worked with children of all ages in elementary schools here in Denmark, and I’m planning on visiting elementary schools to talk about bullying and how we can prevent it by making active, hands-on programs that involve the children in a dynamic, unique and innovative way. During the competition one of my main focuses was one of UN’s 17 envision goals, which is mental health and environmental well-being for all, especially children within elementary schools. Therefore, I would say that my family's foundation and my Miss Earth advocacies correlate perfectly. ME Magazine: As an actress, do you see yourself involved in films that define your environmental and sustainable goals? Michala: That would be a dream role! I would absolutely love to play a part, or be a part of projects that are environmentally aware or highlights sustainability and different environmental problems we face today.
I've played a part before to draw attention to the shelter for abused women and children. Something there isn't enough awareness around, and it's something that's only gotten worse during the pandemic. I'll never forget the women I got to know while visiting the shelter. And I’d love to play more parts highlighting problems within our society, giving a voice to individuals or groups that are otherwise overlooked. While the world is very aware of our environment and the threats we face, it isn't often showcased in films. “ ”
ME Magazine: Please share with us more about your work in your foundation in Thailand, especially its undertaking amidst this pandemic? Dan Rubinstein: We work together with the government schools- and kindergarten teachers, the local administration and health care. Our role is to be the change makers while at the same time trying to develop the best practices. Our first Baby Club kids started their first class at School and were tested in a nationwide study. Our 5 year olds did clearly better in the test than the aver- age 5-years old in Thailand, which we are very proud of. When coronavirus hit, we had to close the school, the Kindergarten and the Baby Club and start with on-line teaching in an area, where only a few have internet connections. The situation became critical when Bangkok started to send their infected people back to the villages where they came from. This has led to lockdowns, where people could not leave their areas, not even to go to buy food. As we see the role of Zero-to-Hero Foundation not only to build HERO’s, but also to support the families in the village, our main supporter Kone Centennial Foundation donated a lot of food for every local family. The distribution was handled by the local temple. ME Magazine: What changes do you believe are needed to be taken to alleviate this pandemic? Michala: I think the answer lies within our governments and our own actions. Many countries have already vaccinated their entire adult population twice and are now discussing a third vaccine. Meanwhile, many poorer countries haven’t even had the chance to vaccinate their eldery, vulnerable and medical employees yet. If the rich countries donated vaccines to the struggling countries many lives could be saved, and the hospitals wouldn't be overcrowded. Also extra food and medicine could be shared with the vil- lages who are being forced to close down, to combat starvation and other illness. I think right now it’s about giving a hand to those in need. Country to country, city to village, neighbour to neighbour and human to human.
ZERO to HERO Foundation, together with their sponsor, giving out food to a local village in Thailand during the current pandemic.
ME Magazine: What powerful message do you wish to convey to the world that would bring about significant action towards envi- ronmental and mental healing? Michala: For generations we have exhausted our soil, nature and natural resources. We are now facing the consequences. Our ecosystems are dying, and as a result we are losing our biodiversity. This is the biggest crisis we have ever faced in today’s modern society. I’m extremely privileged to have been given a platform to promote the issues that we face, but more than that I want to be active with people, invite everyone to have a debate, where we can educate each other and also come up with new solutions. We need the next generation to be active, innovative and passionate about our planet. We need to teach children the benefits of being dif- ferent and unique as you are, without the pressure to fit into a socially accepted box. Fight for our rights, for equality, for our nature and for our very existence in symbiosis with this world, that we have been given; to have compassion for every living being. And of course, for an end to this devastating pandemic, that has already ended too many lives, and forever changed even more.
A SHAAN-SHINE for SUSTAINABILITY 6KDDQ6XKDV.XPDU
Shaan at the UN Sustainable Development Goals Sensitization, Teacher's Council in Bangkok, Thailand
ME Magazine: You have actively involved yourself in various organizations that advocate sustainability of the environment, women and youth empowerment throughout the years in line with your mission, do you believe your voice as a titleholder can bring your advocacy to a higher level? Shaan: It already has. It has been 4 years since I became Miss Earth India and that title has held a lot of value. Starting in 2016, when I was competing for the title, people started to take notice of the development and environmental work I was doing and it helped me to see the possibilities beyond myself. Being a part of Miss Earth motivated me to bring my advocacy to more people and provided the platform to amplify my impact. To be a credible voice and titleholder, I volunteered and collaborated extensively with many organizations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature, Climate Reality Leadership Corps, Environmental Planning and Coordination Organization, Climate Tracker and served as an Ambassador to international programmes and organizations such as the World Merit Charity to gain knowledge, experience and lead by example. This experience has shaped and inspired me to be proactive in trying to make the world more sustainable and encouraging people to take action. I’ve grown so much! To date, in all my work, I practice a lot of things I have learnt as a titleholder and I will continue to do so to take my impact to the next level. The journey towards becoming Miss Earth India and representing my country internationally required me to think deeply about myself and the change I wanted to bring in order to be consistent in my words and actions. “ ”
ME Magazine: What projects of yours do you envision as being a powerful collaboration with Mr. Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project? Shaan: The Climate Reality Project is focused on climate change education and advocating for climate solutions available today. Cli- mate Reality Leaders (CRLs) are personally trained by the Nobel Laureate and former Vice President of USAAl Gore and learn from the world renowned scientists and communicators during Climate Reality Leadership Corps. I became a Climate reality Leader in 2016 and was trained in Houston, Texas. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Al Gore there and then later, based on my advocacy and work in sensitizing people, I was chosen as one of five people from the community to have a one-on-one online conversation with him about climate action in 2017. As a Climate Reality Leader, my role has been to sensitize people about climate change and climate action and I have done that in multiple ways in the past few years, starting from tree plantations and sensitizing children about their importance to leading and facil- itating learning opportunities for hundreds young people to learn about Climate Action, the Sustainable Development Goals and Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As a part of the community, I hope to continue to scale this work.
ME Magazine: Do you believe the UN will have achieved its goals by 2030? Why? Shaan: Before the 2030 Global Goals, or the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, there were the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). The Millenium Development Goals too, were 15 year goals starting in the year 2000 and ending in 2015. However, unlike the 17 SDGs, there were only 8 goals. With the MDGs, the world was able to achieve some remarkable feats together - such as lifting more than one billion people out of extreme poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals today are a lot more widely known, understood and integrated. Even though we have had some major setbacks with the pandemic, natural disasters, and heartbreaking losses due to political crises in nations - I am still hopeful that in the next 9 years, a lot more people, organizations and nations will join
in to make big strides towards reaching these goals, especially Climate Action.
ME Magazine: As an awardee filmmaker, do you have plans to produce a new film that encompasses the mes- sage of sustainability which can bring about a change in the pandemic? Shaan: I had the opportunity to create a documentary on tigers and their habitat and some on educational impact in underserved communities, earlier in my career. Now with social media being such a powerful tool for spreading awareness, in the near future I hope to make shorter videos to keep informing people about the pressing social and environmental challenges we face today and actions they can take. ME Magazine: Has the pandemic affected your environ- ment ? Why and how? Shaan: I think the pandemic has knocked us back in many ways apart from drastically affecting global health. Though things looked like they were getting better for the environ- ment last year with the visible decrease in pollution, we now know with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 6th Assessment Report that the planet’s tem- peratures are likely to rise above 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, with human activity now causing some irreversible changes to our planet, that will have devastating effects for all living beings. In my full time role, I work to support the development of women’s leadership and studies have stated that the pandemic has set back gender equality by over a 100 years. This is true for other Sustainable Devel- opment Goals as well. In general, it has become harder to gather together for a purpose and create a sense of com- munity and belonging which has always been a crucial in- gredient in building momentum and movements. However, we are learning to bounce back. The pandemic has been a wake up call and now more than ever we need to take what we’ve learnt and try to innovate to find new, better and sus- tainable ways of moving ahead.
Shaan as aYouth Presenter for the Sustainable Development Goals at the Estoril Conferences in Portugal
“If we do not take actions while we have the choice to, there will soon come a time when we have no choice. Climate Change transcends boundaries and anyone anywhere can be affected all of a sudden as we have seen in the past year.”
- Shaan Suhas Kumar Miss Earth India 2017
Peaceful Environment Rally - Switch Off for the Planet - Earth Hour
“To me, being a part of MISS EARTH has been an honour and a responsibility. It made me realize that I have a bigger role to play especially when it comes to environmental action.” The one month I spent in the Philippines with all the Miss Earth delegates was an experience that I’ll always treasure - it opened my mind to new ideas, perspectives and cultures and gave me the chance to learn from the advocacies of other Miss Earth sisters. At the pageant, I also developed some understanding of how en- vironmental issues and approaches to problem solving can look very different from one region to another. Finally, in my role as Miss Earth India, I was able to build resilience, become more self aware and grow my confidence, which all of which have contribut- ed greatly to my advocacy work and environmental action. ME Magazine: What powerful message do you wish to convey to your environmental partners and the establishments and organi- zations who need a push in bringing about environmental change? Shaan: Through the fires in the Amazon, Siberia, Indonesia, the US, Turkey and Greece, flooding in Germany and China and, many other natural disasters all over the planet; it has become abundantly clear that climate change is not only an environmental issue - it is a geographical stability, food, water and livelihood se- curity, medical, and economic issue as well. Sir Robert Swan (the world’s first person to walk to both - the north and south poles of the earth) has said - “the biggest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” and I do believe that. Climate Change is and will be the biggest challenge for humanity in the next few decades and we need all hands on deck. As countries, organizations and individuals, we just can't go on thinking that Climate Change is not our problem - and that only certain organizations or people should do something about it. As individuals we need to try to make changes to our lifestyles, consume less, find better alternatives and lower our carbon foot- print. Where we can, we need to try our best to elect and support leaders that are committed to making sustainability and regenera- tion in organizations, cities and nations a top priority. We need to keep educating ourselves and those around us consistently and work towards protecting our natural resources and biodiversity. In the professional roles we have - be it titleholders, development professionals, film-makers, business persons, engineers, law- yers, doctors or others - we need to think of ways that we can inte- grate sustainability and climate action into our work. This is an in- credibly complex challenge and the way forward to a better future and a habitable planet, is if we get together to understand the issues, make this a priority now and problem solve relentlessly in the next few years.
Climate Reality Leadership Corps in Houston, Texas
Speaker at the World Merit Summit in Morocco
Workshop Speaker and Facilitator with Climate Tracker and WWF
Mentor and Facilitator at the Climate Journalism Workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Nguyen Phuong Khanh ) :
ME Magazine: When and how did you conceptualize your new business? Was this your passion?
Khanh: At the beginning of 2020, at the time when the global pandemic occurred and affected people's health and life. During the first social distance imple- mentation in Vietnam, I started to learn about the punch needle art techniques and combined it with other embroidery techniques to create my way of art. I have a huge passion for textile art because when I make art projects I feel like this is a form of medita- tion for me where my mind is at peace.
ME Magazine: As an entrepreneur, what are challenges do you encounter in this pandemic?
Khanh: I have been facing many challenges during this pandemic, like the one year withdrawal from the business and fashion show, for the purpose of doing research and planning for the new business. To survive this pandemic is to reduce living expenses to make sure the family and the business still have a sustainable cash flow. And we also share the love. My family and I try to help other people and spread the positive energy.
“ ART CAN HEAL OUR SOUL. Panic, anxiety, stress, trauma. We’re having many mental problems and art helps me through this, so it can do the same for you too.” - Nguyen Phuong Khanh Miss Earth 2018
ME Magazine: Are you looking into expanding your novelties in the near future? How and why? Khanh: Of course, that's my goal. But first I need to wait for the right time to launch my business and the dream is to build a place that provides handcrafted workshops and art techniques to young people. I learned that during hard times when employment is not possi- ble you can have income if you can make some handcrafted project ME Magazine: Do you feel you created an impact on some lives with your creations despite the mental health issue we currently experience? Khanh: I believe that art can speak and love can spread. People are facing a pandemic, but also facing mental issues due to the effects of Covid. I created my artwork to send my positive energy out to create an impact on people and especial- ly to the frontline doctors who need it the most.
Khanh’s special yarn art dedicated to the Vietnamese frontliners
ME Magazine: Are we expecting some new creations soon? Please share with us. Khanh: I will share with you all of my creations soon. These artworks are made during the pandemic.
Custom tote bag with rainbow art created in celebration of Pride Month
AUSTRIA Klaudia Bleimer
BELIZE Aarti Sooknandan
IRELAND Bronwyn O’Connell
NETHERLANDS Saartje Langstraat
NIGERIA Christine Telfer
PHILIPPINES Naelah Alshorbaji
SPAIN Marina Fernández
Beauties for a Cause
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