KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Things have been getting better for 18-year-old Veveonah Mosibin ever since she posted YouTube videos of herself spending the night up a tree to get better Internet access for her exam, and they went viral.
She became an Internet sensation almost overnight after a video she uploaded on June 13 caught the eye of viewers on YouTube. She now has more than 96,000 subscribers.
"When I started posting videos on YouTube, I never thought that it could become a hit in such a short time, and I didn't expect much, as I was just doing videos for fun," Ms Veveonah said.
However, that treetop video challenge of hers in Kampung Sabanalang Pitas opened up opportunities, while also highlighting the lack of facilities in many parts of Sabah.
"I received so many calls from the media, from people wanting to help, such as Telekom Malaysia, and got an offer from Universiti Malaysia Sabah for a degree course, and even had the chance to visit the state palace," she said.
Ms Veveonah's visit to the state palace was to receive contributions from Yayasan Nur Jauhar and meet the head of state's wife, Toh Puan Norlidah R.M Jasni, who is the adviser of the foundation.
In one video she uploaded, Ms Veveonah climbed up a hill and later made a bamboo hut for herself that she wanted to use for her studies. But the hut was destroyed following heavy rain.
In a second video, Ms Veveonah shared how she chose to sleep in a langsat fruit tree to prepare for her exams.
With a supply of three packets of leaf-wrapped rice (known as linopod), a bottle of water, some study tools and a mosquito net, the teenager set out to carry out her challenge. She shared how easy it was for her to climb the tree, find a sturdy suitable branch to spend the day and night, place her supplies on top and then put up a mosquito net.
She started with her chemistry subject in the morning and then Pengajian Malaysia (Malaysian studies) in the afternoon.
All was well except for a moment when a hornet got caught inside her net and she had to chase it out.
Her lunch and dinner, followed by breakfast the next day, consisted of just the three packs of linopod and plain water.
After spending the night in the tree, she went home to a seemingly fuming mother (as seen in the video), who was worried sick.
"But I told her that I will be spending the night in a tree. All's good, as she knows I can take care of myself," she said.
The youngest of five siblings, Ms Veveonah, who hopes to be a lecturer and a successful YouTuber, said she hoped to be able to inspire others to never give up.
In one of her videos, she also spoke of her family's legendary Kancil car which, despite being beat up and old, still functions and serves them well.
She talked about how the car was used to take her to her school MRSM Sandakan, a six-hour journey from her home town, navigating muddy terrains and gravel roads.
"For my PT3 exam, we were asked to prepare a report on transportation issues, and immediately I thought about my home town because silly me thought that this would help to get a road built," she said.
Ms Veveonah said she got an A for the subject, but the road she hoped for was not built.
"When I asked my teacher when our road would be fixed, she told me that the project was just for academic purposes. I was devastated and disappointed," she said.
Realising how silly she was to think that the school project would change anything, she pulled herself together.
She said there was no need to feel dejected when faced with obstacles, because when there is a will, there will always be a way.
"When I see so many positive and encouraging comments and messages on my YouTube channel, it just makes me want to do more and share more," she said.
Many more people are talking about the bad Internet connection, bad road access and the absence of water and electricity supply in their home towns in Sabah.
"For me, I think this awareness is good and needed. I hope the authorities will look into our plight seriously," Ms Veveonah said.
On her new-found fame, she said her family advised her to take what was good and ignore the negative.
Ms Veveonah said she did not want her YouTube platform to be a source of stress and just wanted to have fun making the videos.