Liyana Mohammed Rafidz talks about her love of drawing.

DRAWING can be a really satisfying activity, especially for the artistically talented. For Liyana Mohammed Rafidz, 12, of SK Taman Bukit Maluri, Kuala Lumpur, it is a way to effectively express her thoughts on many ideas and issues.

When the third instalment of the AEIOU Financial Comic Strip Challenge organised by Alliance Bank came up, Liyana felt that it was exactly her cup of tea.

“I really love to draw. I read a lot of manga and marvel at the drawings. They inspire me to come up with my own drawings!” said Liyana.

Liyana’s submission to the challenge titled Save, Plan, Spend won the Best Storyline Edu-Comic award. The challenge is the nation’s first and only financial literacy comic competition. Themed Smart Financial Habits, it is aimed at educating children on financial literacy and creating awareness among primary school pupils all over the country on the importance of savings.

Participants between the age of nine and 12 have to come up with a comic booklet that shows the importance of saving, planning and spending.

For her award-winning comic storyline, Liyana won RM1,000, a trophy and certificate, and a stationery set from Faber-Castell (M) Sdn Bhd, one of the partners of the challenge.

Awards at the competition included Best Edu-Comic, Best Artwork Edu-Comic, Audience Favourite Edu-Comic, Best Character Design and Most Creative Edu-Comic.

Alliance Bank corporate responsibility and events management head Kue Kit Wai said that the bank felt that children between the age of nine and 12 express themselves better through drawings than writing.

“It’s not that we think they cannot write, but we feel that drawing is a better medium for the pupils to express their thoughts and feelings,” she added.

Liyana added that comics appeal to her because she can design her own booklet with her characters and plot.

“I express myself better on paper through drawing and I can also relieve stress.”

She would like to keep on drawing comics in the future. “I draw inspiration from manga by Japanese illustrators. I find their artwork really beautiful. I wish I can draw as well as they do.”

Despite her love of manga comics, she does not get the chance to buy many as they can be rather expensive.

“I cherish what I have and study the drawings in detail.”

The youngest in the family, Liyana has more than ample support and encouragement from her parents and two older sisters to spur her passion for drawing comics. Although they do not help her with her comic strips, Liyana’s family discusses ideas with her.

“My parents knocked on the door to ask how I was coping when I was completing the comic strips for the challenge,” said Liyana.

“They advised me on what would work.”

Apart from being artistically inclined, Liyana works hard in her studies and is considered an ace in academic subjects at school. SK Taman Bukit Maluri school counsellor Manjula Thiruvengadam said: “Liyana comes from a family that is very supportive. Her parents have always encouraged her to aim high.

“Rather than turning out pampered, Liyana is a responsible child and mature for her age. She is also clear-headed.

“She has high confidence in herself and a pleasant disposition. You can say she is well-rounded as a person,” added Manjula.

“Liyana can be counted on to help out at school too. As a librarian, she chairs meetings for its members and writes the minutes.”

(From left) Manjula Thiruvengadam, Liyana Mohammed Rafidz and Kue Kit Wai.

Liyana seems to have a knack for numbers as well as drawing. This could be the reason financial literacy struck a chord with her and enabled her to come up with an interesting storyline for her comic strip booklet.

“I have been attending Kumon classes since young and am happy to say that I am ahead of my class,” said Liyana.

While she finds drawing manga and comics therapeutic, working with numbers excites her too.

“I find working with numbers very satisfying too, as I’m quite good in mathematics!”

She hopes to excel in the recent Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah examination she sat and aims to enrol in Kolej Yayasan Saad next year.

On advice for future AEIOU Financial Comic Strip Challenge competitors, Liyana said: “To do well, one must plan first. You cannot expect to get good results unless you plan your plot and draw a good storyboard first.

“After that, you can proceed with the script.”

A page out of Liyana’s comic strip booklet.

Before starting with their comic strip booklet, pupils were encouraged to visit the official Alliance Bank AEIOU Challenge website and watch the tutorial on creating the comic strip booklet.

Interactive and trainer-led workshops and games were conducted at various schools to guide pupils in designing the comic strips.

“I have been brought up from young to believe in myself and to express my thoughts and ideas creatively. I believe other children my age can do it too.”