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Malaysian teenager holds aquathlon for survivors of Cyclone Nargis

UNICEF Image: Malaysia, Cyclone Nargis
© UNICEF Malaysia /2008 / Nadchatram
Tristan Lim in action during his fundraising aquathlon. The 13-year-old raised $7,740 for survivors of Cyclone Nargis.

By Cheryl-Stephanie Loon

SRI KEMBANGAN, Malaysia, 11 July 2008 – Being thousands of miles away from Myanmar did not stop Tristan Lim, a 13-year-old student of the Alice Smith School in Malaysia, from working his hardest to help raise funds for the survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

In a show of support for the cyclone-affected country, Tristan promoted a one-man aquathlon event. The teenager swam over 3 km, which he then followed with an 8 km run. Through this fundraiser, he collected a total of $7,740 for the UNICEF Myanmar children’s cyclone appeal.

“I wanted to do this mainly because I’ve been to Myanmar and the people there were so nice,” said Tristan. “I feel sorry for what they have lost. I have everything I need here – my parents and a good education. They lost everything in a split second.” 

Tristan sent appeals for donations through e-mail and ultimately, he doubled the total number of sponsors.

Show of support

“The feedback was encouraging as I received 80 donors even before the event itself,” he said. Among the donors for the 2 June challenge were approximately 100 students from Tristan’s school.

Tristan, who finished the aquathlon in two hours, did not do it alone. His father, Huan Lim, accompanied him for part of the run.

UNICEF Image: Malaysia, Cyclone Nargis
© UNICEF Malaysia/2008/ Loon
UNICEF Representative in Malaysia Youssouf Oomar accepts a cheque from Tristan Lim; the funds will be used to provide school materials and temporary classrooms to cyclone-affected children.

His schoolmates were also quick to join in. Many of them ran with him in a show of solidarity. Applause and encouragement were heard from the teachers and students who lined the route.

“I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my parents, my principal and my friends,” said Tristan.

‘An important role’

UNICEF has always been supportive of young people who step forward on behalf of their peers.

“Through the example set by Tristan, it is very clear that youngsters can play an important role,” said UNICEF Representative in Malaysia Youssouf Oomar. “Not necessarily with money, but by being together.… Tristan has expressed solidarity with his friends in Myanmar.”

Tristan also acknowledges another inspiration for the event – his older brother Timothy, who swam 236 laps at the age of 11 to raise funds for an orphanage in Malaysia.                                                        

“I hope this will inspire more people like how I was inspired by my brother,” said Tristan. “They don’t have to be extraordinary, they just have to put effort in it and achieve what they want.”




27 June 2008: UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on a young man’s athletic endeavours to help suvivors of Cyclone Nargis.
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