Putting Into Practice

It has been more than a month ago since I wrote anything here. July was extremely busy. Although we have done a lot in the past month, I’m happy to have more free time now. It was very fulfilling to be able to really offer our help in turtle conservation work. Thanks to all the help we could get from project leaders, as well as past and current interns and volunteers, we had not missed a single night on patrol during Ramadan month. We had also helped at the hatchery!! Good times relocating nests to the hatchery and watching the hatchlings hatched! Seeing is believing and there is hope to ensure the sustainability of sea turtles!

Things have returned to a normal pace at the project. No big groups in August. This gives me time to focus on fewer tasks that should be my priorities but had to put on hold before. A few months ago, Air Asia Foundation wrote us an invitation to attend a finance training on finance management, good governance and transparency. We decided it would be a very useful training to learn how to record our finance. All of us are not from a finance background but being at a project that depends on funding, many have to multitask or Malaysians like to call it bao ka liao! Thanks for the flight sponsorship from Air Asia Foundation and PwC organising the finance training, it was indeed very beneficial. Bookkeeping and all the numbers, to start with, have never been something simple but knowing the right tools for reporting to ensure we spend over our budget helps.

The training started off explaining what good governance is, how to be transparent and how to do reporting to different stakeholders. The most intrigue part was to learn to use Excel. Although I have been using Excel for years, I learned a few more functions and what I found most helpful is learning how to create a pivot table. Of course practice makes perfect, I definitely need to start doing our income and expenses using a pivot table!

I personally was interested in how social media or online apps helps with reporting. Piktochart was mentioned in the training. The first time I saw one was when Neil from Blue Temple Conservation posted an infograph on Facebook to summarize what we have discovered on coral health and also the finding to the questionnaires conducted on tourists visiting Perhentian, for example how to be an eco-diver? After hearing recommendations on Piktochart and how effective infographic is to provide information, I decided to do one on a survey done by our team in 2013 to gain a better understanding on locals’ perception about the marine environment. We were starting to organise awareness campaigns around resorts at Perhentian. Part of the campaign involved us giving safety briefing on eco-snorkel practices. We realised that almost all resorts are outsourcing their snorkel tours to local boatmen, which is the reason we wanted to find out more about the locals’ point of view in preserving the environment. Thanks to Shuan Chen, our intern, who did most of the interviews with the locals. This is what we understood from the survey!

2013 Survey

The infograph does not tell us more than just merely providing simple statistics and facts. However, for reporting, it is clear and straight to point and everything else can come into further discussion. Being a beginner using Piktochart, I need to be honest that it did take me a few hours to even get it done. As I could not do to much editing to the graphs or charts with the free version, I had done 5 out of 6 graphs using Excel. I uploaded these graphs saved in JPEG format to Piktochart and simply just moved them as I wished on the infographic. I think with more practices and using the ‘go pro’ version of Piktochart, it gives me more flexibility and options in editing the infographic.

Having spent most of my time being sweaty and dirty working on the field, I realised these computer skills do come in handy, especially to write reports and to monitor the progress of our work. I am grateful for the opportunity given and looking forward to learning more skills, as well as putting them to good use.

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