Volunteers installing lighting features in a house built under the Ihsan Johor programme.
JOHOR BARU: They may be from different backgrounds and professions but they come together with one aim, which is to build houses for the underprivileged.
These volunteers, some coming from Selangor and the Klang Valley and from all over Johor, meet up when there is an assignment or “build” as they call it, to build and assemble houses for hardcore poor families under the Ihsan Johor programme.
Interior designer Jix Foo, 32, from Kuala Lumpur, said she found her calling in volunteer work when she worked with Epic Homes, which focuses on providing housing for the orang asli community.
Since beginning her journey in volunteerism three years ago, she has had a hand in building 16 houses, including those throughout Johor, Gopeng in Perak, and Serendah and Batang Kali in Hulu Selangor.
“I think building houses, which is a basic necessity, is the most tangible way to help those in need and I feel a sense of fulfilment every single time I help to complete a project and hand it over to the owners,” she said when interviewed.
Engineering graduate Siti Hajar Airdzaman, 24, who built her third house recently for a family whose house in Plentong here was crushed by a fallen tree during a storm, said the experience could be overwhelming for first timers as a lot of stamina is needed.
Besides putting what she learnt in university to good use, her favourite part about volunteering was being able to meet all sorts of people.
“I like that we not only build homes but we also build friendship with the people we work with and the people we are helping.
“When I meet volunteers from IT or accounting backgrounds coming to help build houses, I feel inspired by them and think that there is no reason for me, with an engineering background, not to contribute to society,” said Siti Hajar from Batu Pahat.
Azeem Aqif Mohd Pidaus, 18, who recently completed his SPM examination in Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah, Putrajaya, said he did not mind travelling all the way to Johor to join the cause.
“Young people always say they don’t have the time to help others but I feel that as youths we should help those in need while we still have the time and energy,” he said, adding that the experience has humbled him.
Ihsan Johor executive coordinator Mohamad Amir Jalal said usually 30 to 35 volunteers are involved in each building process and encouraged more people to join the cause.
He added that six houses had been built under the programme since August last year and each house takes about three days to complete.