Changing lives: Feeding the hungry


  • People
  • Saturday, 19 Mar 2016

Teh (fourth from left) and fellow volunteers drove to Ulu Tiram, Johor, to prepare free meals for participants at an alms-giving ceremony. Photo: Tommy Teh

Contractor Tommy Teh can never forget a poignant scene he chanced upon during a charity feeding programme at an old folks home. That of a four-year-old child feeding an elderly man in his 70s. Teh saw it as the epitome of loving kindness and respect for the elderly.

Teh, 60, strongly believes that the young should be taught values such as compassion and charity.

Three years ago, Teh got involved with Meals on Wheels, a charity programme to feed the less fortunate in rural areas. The programme is run by Ti-Ratana Penchala Community Centre in Petaling Jaya. The centre has a van and food truck which make their rounds to distribute foodstuffs and cooked meals.

Last year, volunteers from the centre drove to Ulu Tiram in Johor to distribute free meals to devotees at a kathina (Buddhist alms giving) ceremony.

“We were among the food donors. We cooked vegetarian porridge for distribution. The big event at a temple was attended by some 1,000 people,” said Teh.

A group of 10 to 20 volunteers would visit charity centres every three months. So far, they have made 25 trips.

“We provide foodstuffs, which include daily essentials, to orphanages and old folks homes. We recce which homes need our help and ask for their wish lists So far, the homes had requested for foodstuffs, basic essentials for daily living, and adult diapers for the elderly,” said Teh, adding that his son, Calvin, 33, would join him once in a while to distribute the meals.

Related story: Changing lives: A Samaritan to the blind

Six years ago, Teh passed the hat around and family members and relatives chipped in to buy food to donate to charity. “It is a good gesture to help the needy,” said Teh.

Manager Ng Chin Hoe, 56, has been helping out at a feeding programme for the past seven years. His wife and teenage son have also joined the programme organised by the Buddhist Maha Vihara’s in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Every Sunday, 15 volunteers turn up to help.

“There are two cooks and we help to cut the vegetables and wash the plates,” said Ng.

Related story: Changing lives: Volunteer Audrey Ong leads by example

By 5.30pm, they would hop into their cars and head for designated locations to distribute packed meals to the homeless in the city. Four years ago, the allocation was 90 packets of food. Today it is double that number.

“It’s an eye-opening experience for my family to see so many poor folks in the city. There are migrants and the elderly among them,” said Ng.

Related story: Changing lives: A life of service


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