Since the start of the second movement control order (MCO), Shah Alam, Selangor-based restaurateur Sri Ganesh A. Selvacumarasamy has been buying dry food items frequently from his neighbourhood hypermarket.
But he isn’t purchasing provisions for his restaurant or for himself. Instead, the co-founder of non-profit charity organisation Spoonful of Hope (SH) is buying groceries for underprivileged families at a number of People’s Housing Project (PPR) flats in the Klang Valley.
“On Jan 31, we are planning to distribute groceries at a PPR flat in Puchong. We usually give out dry food items, soap powder, tin food and hand sanitisers to families in need.
“I’ve just obtained my travel permit from Polis DiRaja Malaysia. That should help ease the process of distributing essential food items to the families, ” said Sri Ganesh, 48, over the phone recently.
Since the start of the pandemic, SH has provided groceries to various communities from different races, religions and nationalities.
Sri Ganesh and his former secondary school mate Pat Hullan founded SH in 2015. Since then, it has fed thousands of underprivileged communities across the Klang Valley.
“Pat and I wanted to do our part to help the urban poor. Whatever money we receive is used to support the underprivileged. We aim to provide food aid for the poor, help disadvantaged students and feed the homeless, ” said Sri Ganesh, a former student of SMK La Salle in Petaling Jaya.
SH comprises two entities – Spoonful of Hope Welfare Society (SPHW) which helps underprivileged communities, and Spoonful of Hope Consultancy (SPHC) which provides consultancy services for homegrown cottage industries and event management.
“SPHW relies mainly on contributions from individuals and corporate organisations. Many people assist us by providing donations in kind, cash or volunteering with us. We use social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp to spread our inspiring stories, ” explained Sri Ganesh.
SH has 20 volunteers aged between 18 and 65. Sri Ganesh works closely with them to identify communities in need of help.
“We have many groups that approach us for funding. We usually interview these communities before deciding on the type of assistance that will be allocated to them, which include groceries or one-off meal allocations.”
Volunteer work can be a tricky business, especially during the pandemic. To ensure their safety, Sri Ganesh and his volunteers follow strict standard operating procedures, including wearing a mask, practising social distancing and keeping good hygiene by using a hand sanitiser often.
“There is always the worry of being too close to a person who’s possibly infected by Covid-19. But thankfully, the volunteers have been safe. We strictly follow the SOP and always sanitise our hands and vehicles.”
The work is challenging and risky, but Sri Ganesh is always willing to go the extra mile.
“It is the smiles of relief and appreciation that really drive me to help those in need. Sometimes, the simplest things are said with a sincere smile. My wife and I want to make a difference in people’s lives, ” he shared.
It was Sri Ganesh’s parents who instilled in him the spirit of helping others when he was young.
“Although we were not rich growing up, we were encouraged to help those in need. In secondary school, I joined the LEO Club, where I was exposed to charity work further.”
From those early experiences, Sri Ganesh knew he wanted to continue helping underprivileged communities. He has worked with organisations such as World Wide Fund for Nature, United Nations Children’s Fund, National Cancer Council Malaysia and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Through different volunteer assignments, I have had the opportunity to visit many campsites and seen how some poor communities lived, fuelling my passion to reach out to others. I then went on to conceptualise campaigns for many charities, ” said Sri Ganesh, who also aims to work with human trafficking victims.
Sri Ganesh strongly encourages people to lend a helping hand to those in need.
“It can range from feeding the poor, helping at an animal shelter or providing counselling to women who’ve been trafficked into slavery or prostitution. But remember, you must have the stomach for it.
Now, his most important mission is to feed underprivileged communities during the pandemic.
We can expect Sri Ganesh to frequent his neighbourhood hypermart very often in the next couple of weeks.
In good and bad times, our ties with family and community bind and strengthen us. This column celebrates how Malaysians care for one another and make this country better for all. Please share your inspiring Malaysian stories with us. Email us at email@example.com.