Like Butter, Kindness Too Can Be Spread

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14-07-2020

6 min read

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The three-month lockdown during the Malaysian Movement Control Order (MCO) showed that truly, there are angels that walk among us. Leaderonomics reached out to a few of them to share their stories of kindness.

Sometimes I can’t help but think, “This all started because some dude decided it was a good idea to eat a bat.”

I don’t hold anything against the guy. There’s no way he’d have known that by eating a flying handbag, he would bring about one of the worst modern-day disruptions. That millions would die, and millions still would lose their jobs. Economies would be stretched to the brink of collapse.

All for the quintessential fine dining experience.

Buddy, if you’re still around, could you please do humanity a favour and stick to (thoroughly cooked) chicken for the rest of your life?

Hopefully I don’t come across as sarcastic or bitter. I will admit that situations like these serve as a reminder to me – to everyone – that in times of plenty, it can be easy to be generous. It is in times of need and uncertainty that the gift of giving and serving others takes on new meaning.  

The three-month lockdown during the Malaysian Movement Control Order (MCO) showed that truly, there are angels that walk among us. Leaderonomics reached out to a few of them to share their stories of kindness.

1. Maker’s Habitat

Maker’s Habitat is a creative space that hosts sewing and craft workshops for adults and children. During the MCO, they were involved with the nationwide effort to sew much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) for Malaysian healthcare frontliners. Given that there was a reported PPE shortage at medical facilities as recently as May 16, Maker’s Habitat is filling a crucial gap in the fight against COVID-19. 

Although just a small team of two, many volunteers reached out to offer their help via social media. With about 80 volunteers, they managed to sew and deliver the PPE to hospitals and community clinics in Perak, Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan and Sabah.

Dang, COVID-19 should be scared of THEM.

Inspired by grassroots efforts in the US that they saw via Instagram, Maker’s Habitat knew it was their turn to step up. They added that they loved how the public was very vocal about their appreciation of everyday frontliners who normally get taken for granted, and that hopefully, this appreciation is here to stay.

2. PichaEats

To support both eateries and frontliners, PichaEats reactivated The Zaza Movement to fund refugees cooking and the delivery of the food to front-liners and people in need.

If you go to their page, you’ll see that the name has a bittersweet story. Zaza was the name of one of their refugee chefs, Chef Zaza, who lost his fight to cancer. Two weeks before passing away, he told them he wanted to cook and distribute food at a mosque during Ramadan.

In his memory, PichaEats started the Zaza Movement, where the public can sponsor meals for the needy and help refugees earn an honest living. 

Since the start of the MCO, PichaEats has received donations from 267 sponsors, allowing them to serve 24, 000 meals to the needy in 25 locations. 

 

PichaEats founder Kim adds that she hopes we do not vilify refugees. A bit of empathy goes a long way. 

No one chooses to leave their country unless home conditions are truly desperate. We Malaysians are supposed to set a good example of a welcoming and warm nation.

Hear, hear, Kim!

Kim also gave a special shoutout to one Elaine Chen, for her selflessness and spirit of giving even at a time when she herself faced adversities. Wow, Elaine! I hope you know your kindness has not gone unnoticed.

Read: Emerging from the Movement Control Order

3. Iskul Sama DiLaut Omadal

Iskul Sama Di Laut Omadal is a community-based initiative that provides basic education for undocumented Bajau Laut (an indigenous tribe) children that are unable to attend national school because of their lack of documentation. Iskul Sama DiLaut Omadal hopes to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in this community. 

The recent lockdown severely disrupted their lessons. Because many of their students have very poor (or no) Internet access, online classes were not possible. Many do not even have access to electricity clean water, sanitation, or proper food.

If this wasn’t bad enough, the community received a terrible blow to their economy. The Bajau Laut, being coast-dwellers, rely very heavily on fishing for their livelihood. This MCO saw a steep decline in demand from suppliers for their catch. This, coupled with equipment rental tripling in cost, and many of them outright banned from going to sea, cause a huge spike in fear among the Bajau. Many children turned to sniffing glue as a means of escaping their harsh reality.  

The government was of little help as provisions had only been set aside for those with documentation. For the many who did not have birth certificates, there were no rations prepared and every day was a struggle. 

The government was of little help as provisions had only been set aside for those with documentation. For the many who did not have birth certificates, they were abandoned and left to their own devices. 

Iskul Sama DiLaut, in collaboration with other Sabahan NGOs, started fundraising for food and supplies to be sent over. To date, they have distributed food and everyday necessities to over 200 homes on Omadal Island in Semporna, Sabah. These goods, distributed in limited batches, were handed out based on how urgently each household required help.

They would first visit the various homes in the community and determine which households were in the direst situation. Representatives from these homes would then be asked to collect supplies from a distribution center. This allowed help to first go to the ones that needed it most. Thanks to their close ties to the community, Iskul was able to connect with the locals and ensure that none slipped through the cracks.

Jefry expressed his sincere thanks to the donors and sponsors for putting their trust in Iskul to properly distribute the goods provided.

One of the recipients from Iskul’s supply distribution efforts. 

 

He added that much of the ‘new normal’ seen in the post-COVID-19 world revolved around barring routine human activities, and hoped that solutions would be found so that this no longer stopped people from earning a living. 

On the way Malaysia handled the pandemic, Jefry was mostly optimistic about life within our borders:

I think our country has handled this pandemic really well. What we should all continue to encourage and practice is prioritising the spread of information and knowledge.

Like Kim, Jefry too had something to say about our habit to make villains out of victims of circumstance. 

“Stop finding fault and let’s work together to solve the problem at hand. COVID-19 affected not just healthcare, but almost paralysed the global economy. A problem this big won’t be solved by simply blaming certain parties.”

Consider donating to Iskul’s efforts here

4. Leandra Lee

Through this project, she was able to give back and protect the people who protected her.

Proving you don’t have to belong to an organisation to make a difference, Leandra Lee and her family spent the MCO working on the PPE Project, sewing protective gear for frontliners. All in all, they have made around 2000 pieces and are still going strong.

They also provided help to food banks, especially Refuge for the Refugees which sends food packages to families in need/ affected areas. 

When asked what made her want to play such an active role, Leandra said that she had been involved in a near-fatal accident last October and was left bedridden for months due to the long recovery period needed. She was truly touched by the medical professionals who cared for her and journeyed with her while she was at her most vulnerable.

kindness

Six months after the accident, she googled who manufactured PPE and how she could help. One call led to another and suddenly she was knee-deep in PPE sewing. 

Through this project, she was able to give back and protect the people who protected her.

Speaking of how our country handled the pandemic, Leandra was very appreciative of Malaysian Director-General of Health Dato’ Seri Dr. Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, saying that he is an example of what good leadership should look like in times like these.

Ah, with all my heart, I hope that last sentiment ages well. But so far so good!

Take care folks. Of yourselves, and of each other.

P.S. If you’d like to give a shout out to any other organisation or individual for their good deeds during MCO, let us know in the comments and we’ll try to reach out to them!

See Also: Motherlands Need to be Motherly

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