Rashidah Hashim felt she could not sit home and do nothing during the movement control order, especially when the dedicated medical staff and enforcement officers were out there battling Covid-19.
The 57-year-old was already sending food to frontliners when a friend of hers said that she was making face shields at the request of a doctor in Ipoh, Perak.
Rashidah immediately thought that she should help in that area, using her own funds.
She then contacted her friend Dr Evelyn Khor, who lives in the same neighbourhood in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Kuala Lumpur, asking for volunteers. Khor then reached out to the Rahim Kajai Aminuddin Baki (RKAB) Neighbourhood Watch committee members for help.
That was last Friday (March 27).
Within two days, funds and manpower poured in, enough to make 950 face shields which were distributed to the Sungai Buloh Hospital. Soon there were requests for more.
As of today (April 2), the group of volunteers – whose numbers keep growing daily – has churned out 3,470 pieces of face shields that have been given to various other hospitals including Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital, Hospital Kuala Lumpur and Universiti Malaya Medical Centre.
The shields are distributed through the Face Shield Heroes project, run by a coalition of 13 local NGOs led by Pertubuhan Pemuda Gema Malaysia.
“I am just doing it for the country and for humanity. Ours is a great community. Every day we are getting more volunteers wanting to help. They are all awesome!” enthused Rashidah over the phone.
Aided by her husband, her daughter, domestic helper, and two other family members who live nearby, Rashidah has been making the shields from home almost non-stop.
Even as we were talking, her phone kept getting incoming calls. And during our conversation, her hands were busy cutting up the sponges used for making the shields.
“I want to highlight that all this can be done at home. I am doing it without stepping out of the house!” said Rashidah, who has 15 years of experience working with different women, children and community NGOs.
For materials, Rashidah obtains them from a neighbourhood stationery shop (Star Enterprise) which has been very supportive of the project. The owner sources the materials – which include clear plastic, glue, sponges, elastic bands and staplers – charges at cost price, and delivers them to Rashidah’s house. There, they are sorted out for the volunteers to come and pick up for assembly in their respective homes.
Khor, 62, and a retired academic from the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics at Universiti Malaya, said that currently even residents from outside TTDI have joined the project.
“It's really heartwarming to see so many people offering to help. We need to ensure that our frontliners are well protected because they are out there saving lives and in contact with Covid-19 patients.
“They have families and loved ones waiting for them and we need to do everything we can to protect them.
"We are truly humbled by their sacrifices and that's why we felt that the least we could do was to make these protective face shields for them, ” said Khor, a committee member of the RKAB Neighbourhood Watch.
Khor also said that currently, there are easily 120 people, including children, involved in making the shields. After completion, the volunteers drop them off at Rashidah’s house. The face shields are then properly sanitised before being packed and delivered.
The group recently received an additional request for 2,000 shields and Khor said they are targeting to produce over 8,000 shields in total for the hospitals, thanks to the volunteers and sponsors.
“This has been a wonderful initiative for the RKAB neighbourhood. Today, in spite of the MCO, I feel the project has lifted the spirits and sense of togetherness in the neighbourhood.
“Parents and children are spending time together making the shields and knowing that they are helping the frontliners with their effort. More people are getting to know one another and assisting in picking up the raw materials or dropping off the finished products.
“There is a lot of communication going on in the group, and you can feel the sense of urgency and excitement as they work long hours to meet their target. And in the end, there will be celebration and encouragement when someone completes and delivers a batch. There is a great sense of camaraderie, for sure, ” she said, adding that the group also raised funds to buy personal toiletries for hospital staff at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre recently.
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