The Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted people from all walks of life – from celebrities and businessmen to refugees and migrant workers – has brought many together, offering their support to frontliners and vulnerable communities.
It was clear from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that Malaysians need to look after one another, and the initiative #KitaJagaKita to mobilise aid drew strong public response and support.
It’s during times of crisis that people need to step up and rally around to support and show kindness to those in need, says founder of the #KitaJagaKita initiative Hanna Alkaf.
“We all come from different backgrounds. We’re ordinary people. But when ordinary people come together and focus all their talents and passion and compassion on one purpose, there is so much you can do, ” said Hanna.
The #KitaJagaKita initiative matches people who want to help with people in need such as individuals, groups and frontliners impacted by the pandemic and movement control order (MCO), through community endeavours.
Joining in the efforts to help those impacted by the pandemic is Sidang Injil Borneo, Kuala Lumpur (SIBKL), a local church that is producing 900 protective suits and 9,000 shields for frontliners.
“What is unique is that these protective gear are handmade by the women and their families, including children, ” said SIBKL senior pastor Chew Weng Chee, 74, in an Easter address via video.
Connie Teoh, 49, took part in the project because “it’s the least I can do as a Malaysian, to show my support and kindness to the frontliners”.
Teoh, a music educator, said it takes about three hours to complete a set of 100 units, with her husband and four daughters.
“We got the materials - including clear plastic, sponges and elastic bands, and then assembled the protective gear from scratch, putting each shield together part-by-part, ” she said.
The church has already produced and distributed 8,800 face shields to nine hospitals in the Klang Valley, and also delivered 30 boxes of face masks to the women and children’s ward of Hospital Kuala Lumpur. They have also distributed groceries and fresh produce to refugees and families-in-need in the Klang Valley.
In this unprecedented time of crisis, many have rallied to to help others, even those they barely know.
Retired teacher Madam Lee (as she wished to be known) is a 69-year-old divorcee who lives alone in a high-rise condominium in Petaling Jaya as her two children are overseas and unable to travel back to Malaysia because of their young children.
A neighbour whom she had previously only smiled and nodded to stepped in to offer his help when he saw her going out to get groceries.
“I was concerned when I saw her going out early in the morning with her trolley and recycled shopping bags, ” said Lee’s neighbour, Ng, adding that he empathised with Lee because he has an elderly mother at home.
“Older people are more prone to the virus, and I was also worried about how Madam Lee would get the items she needed, especially if there was a crowd at the supermarket, ” said the 36-year-old.
So, Ng approached Lee and offered his help. They exchanged phone numbers and Ng asked Lee to send him a list of the items she needed.
To maintain safe social distancing, Ng places the groceries at the entrance of Lee’s home for her to collect.
“I have a low cupboard at the entrance to my home so Ng would place the groceries there, ” she said. “I would also message him, asking how much they cost and put the cash there for him to collect, ” she said, adding that it was amazing how times of crisis brings people together.
It was even before the MCO when Edwin Chong, 46, first made an appeal for face masks through social media.
The KL-based IT manager lamented that at that time, the essential item was scarce and out of stock in stores.
“I couldn’t find it anywhere even though I went to many pharmacies in PJ and KL, ” he said.
“My mum, who is 73, has borderline hypertension and diabetes, and she is also asthmatic, so I was very worried and needed to get the masks urgently, ” Chong explained.
He searched through pharmacy and e-commerce websites from early March but they were sold out then.
“I was even prepared to pay jacked-up prices listed on certain websites, but I couldn’t even find a box, ” he said.
He also asked in a Facebook community group where to get face masks.
A Good Samaritan (who did not wish to be named) saw his post and messaged him, telling him she could spare a box.
When he asked how much it cost, she refused to accept any payment.
“No worries, we don’t need to be so calculative during such trying times, ” was her reply.
“I just wanted to help because he mentioned that his mother was elderly and had health problems, ” she said.
She mentioned that she was also “paying it forward”.
“Years ago, when I was studying in the US, complete strangers helped me when a severe storm hit and the university declared a state of emergency.
“There wasn’t any food available and the campus cafeteria was also not operating at the time. But some folks from a church offered me their home and hot meals for four days, ” she said.
“It may be a simple act but it inspired me to also do good and help others.
Said Chong: “This is the exact opposite of what has been happening lately, with scammers preying on people in times of crisis, and also earlier when opportunists hoarded face masks and other essential items to resell at exorbitant prices.”
“I was so touched by the kind act of this total stranger that it restored my faith in humanity, ” he said.
Have you experienced acts of kindness during this time? Or do you know of those who have tried to help others? Do share the story with us. You can email us at email@example.com, or tag @StarLifestyleMy on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #BeKindMY.
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