A week ago, Zeeneeshri Ramdass decided to make sandwiches and hand them out, for free, to people she knew who had been rendered jobless because of the pandemic.
For the 37-year-old mother of three, this was personal. Both her parents have been asked by their employers to take unpaid leave indefinitely because their companies are not doing well. Her husband Kugantharan Vasanthakumar, who teaches music from their home is Kuala Lumpur, has also seen his income affected by the pandemic as lessons have been temporarily suspended. Many of her friends were also without income because their companies were not performing.
"To top it off, I watched the Global Citizen One World Together At Home concert recently and saw how unemployed people are finding it hard to stay afloat. These are people who are either not entitled to handouts or feel to embarrassed to ask for aid. But they have families to feed.
"It got me thinking. What if my husband and I had no work? What if we had just a little saved up... we'd still have to feed our three children. How would we take care of our folks, on top of that," says Zeenee, who is the programme manager (information and communications) for the Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (Arrow).
Her project is called Meatless Malaysian as the meals she prepares are meat free: Zeenee and her family are vegetarians.
For the moment, Zeenee and her mum are providing food to people in their circle of contacts who they know are struggling. But they hope to do more and bring their friends and family together to help them reach more people who need help.
"Mum and I cook whatever we have at home and send it out using food delivery services. We've done egg sandwiches, rice meals and desserts... just to put a smile on some faces. Everything is self funded now because the number of people we are serving is small. But I have friends who have reached out so hopefully, this initiative will reach more people who need some help," says Zeenee.
For the moment, there is no real plans to expand this project other than to help those who need help. Though she is the only one with a stable monthly income in her household of eight, Zeenee feels that she is "better off" than many and can afford to reach out to those more in need.
"I know I should be saving every sen but I truly believe that the more you give, the more you get. So I will do this until I can't if I feel the next person needs help more than me," she says, adding that on Tuesday, they sent out 150 sandwiches.
Since she started this project last week, Zeenee says that friends have reached out to offer to help with her initiative.
Thankfully, even though she has three young ones at home (her eldest boy is nine, her daughter is three and she also has a three-month-old boy), Zeenee has Kugan, her parents ad aunt to help her with schooling and day care while she juggles work and prepares meals.
"Actually work takes up most of my time. Mum and me prepare meals for our family twice a day, at 10.30 in the morning and 5.30 in the evenings, and the meals for those in need go out once we're done cooking. In between I work. Kugan takes charge of our son's schooling and my parents and aunt help with my girls.
Those in need of a comforting free meal can WhatsApp Zeenee at 011-2312 6527
Did you find this article insightful?
100% readers found this article insightful