WATCHING his late father distribute food and medicine during the racial riots on May 13, 1969, prompted Zuhri Yuhyi to give back to the society when he grew up.
“I admired my late father who would help anyone regardless of their race and religion, and I wanted to do the same thing he did,” he said.
The psychology graduate started his charity work when he was 11, collecting funds for the Bosnian massacre victims.
While finishing his degree, he began creating awareness of the homeless in Kuala Lumpur.
Later on, he was appointed to become head of community service at a young Muslim volunteer group where he led the distribution of food to the homeless and hardcore poor in Kuala Lumpur. He also helped create awareness of baby-dumping and taught English to orphans and abused children on weekends.
Since then, he had also volunteered as a van driver for Pertiwi Soup Kitchen for three years, driving around Kuala Lumpur two nights a week before joining Charity Right, an organisation under Mercy Mission Malaysia.
He would spend his day collecting surplus food from restaurants and distribute it to the needy around Klang Valley with another volunteer, Isham Ismail.
“Malaysia wastes more than 900 tonnes of food every day and yet we still have hungry people on the street,” said Zuhri, who has been with the organisation since June last year.
With an ever-growing amount of food being wasted and a dramatic rise in the number of families falling into poverty, Charity Right aims to collect food and clothes and re-distribute them to those in need.
He added that since most restaurants would only be able to donate their leftovers after the shop is closed in the evening, he would have to keep it in a freezer at their headquarters in Kota Damansara and distribute it the next day.
If the food cannot be frozen, Zuhri has to distribute it immediately upon collecting from contributors.
“The locations vary each day and we have a schedule that we follow every week,” he said, adding that there were also ad hoc situations where there was extra food and he would distribute it to the homeless.
“However, we have to distribute to the homeless before they go into hiding,” he said.
Zuhri hoped that the widening gap between the rich and poor could be bridged by donating food to them.
Apart from feeding the hungry, the organisation also aims to empower the society.
“Instead of just feeding them, we help them by having job matching and skill and training sessions with the help of government bodies,” he said.
Spending many years in the gutter with the needy has developed Zuhri’s sense of duty to society and with Charity Right, he plans to do more for the underprivileged.