WHAT started as a one-person mission to provide free school bags by Persatuan Projek Beg Sekolah (PBS), has grown into a non-governmental organisation distributing school bags across Malaysia, right up to Sabah and Sarawak.
Salwa Saleh first initiated the idea when she posted about it on her social media account back in 2015.
“I quickly contacted her when I saw the post and that was how I became one of the focal persons in the Perak PBS division,” said Nur Fadhilah Yunus, 34, a full-time homemaker who is among the Perak PBS volunteers.
Nur Fadhilah said they would get the list of students who needed bags from schools or from individuals who knew the recipients.
Nur Fadhilah a volunteer for Perak PBS.
Each year, the list would be collected between October and November, and they would start distributing the bags from December onwards.
“We wanted to ensure those who received the bags were the ones who really could not afford them.
“From time to time, there have been people who simply request for the bags, but we will first check their background to make sure they fit our target group,” she said.
She said all the bags were distributed to orphanages and poor families.
“Two years ago, one of our recipients was a student who used a plastic bag to carry his books. He said that was the only bag his family could afford.
“We were then informed by Sabah’s PBS that most of the children who received the bags had previously used paper bags to go to school,” said Nur Fadhilah.
Norhayati Ramli, 39, is another PBS senior volu Norhayati are volunteers for Perak PBS.
“We accept secondhand bags, but it must be in clean and good condition.
Norhayati another volunteer for Perak PBS
“We do not simply accept all kinds of bags because the goal is to make sure the children feel happy getting a new bag to start their school year,” said Norhayati.
She said in the past, some of the bags donated were travelling bags which were not suitable for students.“Last year, we decided to purchase new bags for the students instead,” said Norhayati.
PBS’ funding comes from the public donations as well as contributions from companies and institutions such as Muadzam Shah Polytechnic, Prolintas, Tan Sri Nasimuddin Foundation and Jakel (Greentown branch).
“For our next distribution, I am hoping to gather more committed volunteers in the Perak PBS division. “During our previous session, we only had 14 focal persons, and it was quite difficult for us to manage.“We received a message from a family in Gerik who needed school bags, but because we did not have any volunteers there, we could not deliver the bags to the family,” said Nur Fadhilah.
This year, more than 3,000 bags have been distributed in Perak alone.
“Among the areas in Perak we have covered are Ipoh, Kampar, Sitiawan, Teluk Intan and Malim Nawar.
“Hopefully, we can get more volunteers and donations in the future so we can distribute to more school students in Perak,” said Nur Fadhilah.
Readers who are interested to become volunteers with PBS can visit their Facebook page “Projek Beg Sekolah”.