AS the Star Golden Hearts Award enters its third year, winners from the past two years say the award has had a ripple effect, touching even more lives.
They have not only been encouraged by the recognition for their efforts, but the award has also encouraged others to contribute their time and money – which has meant the winners could then do more to help others.
For 16 years, Mohd Yusuf Rohani has been helping to care for his friend R. Doraisamy, who is blind and has lost the lower part of both legs due to diabetes.
It’s been a financial struggle for Mohd Yusuf on his salary as a boilerman at a palm oil factory near Teluk Intan, and for Doraisamy’s sister and husband, who earn a combined daily salary of about RM70 at a nearby estate.
But when he became one of the winners of the Star Golden Hearts Award in November last year, things changed. He took the certificate, trophy and cheque for RM3,000 to show the friend he calls “D.O.”.
“He was very happy,” he recalls. “He told me to take half of the money and he took half.”
Mohd Yusuf used his share to pay off the back rent for his house, which had fallen behind because he had been giving money to Doraisamy. He also continued to take him for his hospital visits and bring him food.
But the award was only the beginning. When friends and members of the public heard about the story of Mohd Yusuf and Doraisamy, they donated another RM4,000.
A country club in Petaling Jaya also contributed RM5,000. Mohd Yusuf opened a joint account for Doraisamy and his niece.
They used the money to pay off Doraisamy’s debts and for the funeral expenses for his niece’s late husband. There’s still RM4,000 left, which they are saving for Doraisamy’s future needs.
Mohd Yusuf appreciates that the award recognises people like him who helped others from a different community.
“The award has opened their eyes,” he says. “No matter what our religion, we look after each other.”
Mastura M. Rashid was one of the winners of the inaugural award in 2015 for The Nasi Lemak Project (TNLP), which helps poor families set up food enterprises through micro-capital, but she stresses that it is a team effort.
TNLP became better known thanks to the coverage about the award, she says. “And the video which appeared on The Star Online was very useful in explaining our project to other people.”
In fact, on the day the story appeared, it received a pledge for RM5,000, which went towards its non-profit EduRangers who give free tuition. The Star Golden Hearts Award cheque was used to provide two weekends of meals for children attending the classes.
TNLP has since increased its database of homeless families from 200 to 300, and its database of companies or individuals subscribing for the nasi lemak and making donations has also increased.
Its nasi lemak is now sold at five Shell stations, and it is looking for more. TNLP is also working with Hong Leong Foundation and Selangor Dredging to set up an outlet to sell its nasi lemak.
It has trained 44 families to become entrepreneurs and are now working with another six families.
It has also set up Sting Garden to build confidence in urban youths and children (see facebook.com/stingardentheatre/ for details of its debut play) and Pixel Garage to equip youth with graphic design skills.
The 15 graduates from last year’s course are now working as junior graphic designers and earning between RM2,000 and RM2,800.
“The award contributed to the doing-good NGO ecosystem,” says Mastura.
“With media of all kinds nowadays, we see more negative than positive news,” notes Datuk David Chua, who joined the panel of judges in 2016 and will be judging again this year.
“We need to balance this with the good in society that people take for granted. This effort by Star Media Group brings forth that other dimension, to be recognised by society.”
Nominations are open until Aug 31 for the Star Golden Hearts Award and the winners will be announced in December.
For the second year, the Award is supported by Gamuda. The Gamuda’s Choice Award: Inspiration for A Moderate Malaysia will be presented by Yayasan Gamuda to the person or group that comes closest to fulfilling the criteria of heroism, altruism and inclusivity.