Support groups for the housebound


  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 22 Apr 2020

Paulose only needs a tablet and some lighting to connect with people as far away as Australia and teach them the art of meditation.

SEVERAL support groups, both public and private, have popped up online with the aim to disseminate information to their fellow Malaysians.

They offer a lifeline to those in need as well as community support to weather through the challenges of being housebound during the movement control order (MCO) period.

One of these is the “Malaysia Covid-19 Survival Info” social media group that is dedicated to providing information to help Malaysians cope, live and play a role during the pandemic.

Group spokesman April Yim said the members try their best to provide information on how to detect, test, report and crowdsource for solutions needed now and during the recovery stage.

The community was formed after her group of friends grew frustrated with the amount of false, irrelevant and fear-mongering information that was going around shortly after the outbreak in the country.

“There were a lot of unsolicited and unverified posts and messages being shared, which we knew could lead to changing the general response and sentiment among Malaysians.

“We focused on providing quick, right and practical information in the Malaysian context so that people would know how to cope better, and in multiple languages if possible,” said Yim, who works in the communications industry.

(From left) Shee, Yim, Lim and Chang are among the key people behind the ‘Malaysia Covid-19 Survival Info’ group. This photo was taken before the MCO came into effect on March 18.(From left) Shee, Yim, Lim and Chang are among the key people behind the ‘Malaysia Covid-19 Survival Info’ group. This photo was taken before the MCO came into effect on March 18.

“With the contribution of fellow Malaysians, the platform now provides or shares other topics such as mental health information, crowdsourcing, helping migrants and refugees, legal and financial resources as well as relevant materials for those with children.”

The group’s administrators comprise people with different expertise — Shee Tze Jin (maker), Daniel Lim (community organiser), Chang Lih Ren (fintech), Dr Lee Zhi Shan

(medical) and Daniel Lui (law technology).

They also have several volunteer moderators from technology and education backgrounds to moderate the posts and cover different time zones.

“Malaysians are very willing to help one another even when we are confined to our homes,” said Yim.

“There have been lots of volunteers signing up to contribute their skills, resources and even share ideas. With that, we enrich one another.

“Our role as moderators is just to really help clear the confusion, help discussions become more productive and positive, and to avoid opportunistic individuals and organisations from unfairly profiting from the situation.”

She added that a few of the group’s founders were also involved in the Rumah Kita initiative that helped make personal protective equipment for medical frontliners.

A screenshot of one of the posts in the ‘Malaysia Covid-19 Survival Info’ group.A screenshot of one of the posts in the ‘Malaysia Covid-19 Survival Info’ group.

Helping the body and mind

When the MCO came into effect, many were left without access to their usual gyms, workout studios and even parks.

This prompted part-time personal trainer Muhammad Azhan Abdullah, 40, to utilise his “Awesome Fit” social media pages as a platform to share home workout tips.

“As all my sessions with clients and students are postponed, I try to figure out ways to change the sessions into something that we can do at home and, at the same time, enable all of us to stay connected and motivated.

“We can still practise a healthy lifestyle albeit staying at home and abiding by the MCO. Being cooped up doesn’t mean we cannot stay fit,” he said.

Azhan produces instructional videos with various exercises incorporating materials on hand in lieu of gym exercise equipment.

“People can use water bottles, books, sofa or even your own body weight. “And most importantly, do it within your own capabilities,” he said.

While Azhan focuses on producing the videos, everyone shares their progress and ideas on their WhatsApp groups.

Azhan shows in his videos how chairs, stairs and water bottles, among other household items, can be used as replacement for exercise equipment for those working out at home.Azhan shows in his videos how chairs, stairs and water bottles, among other household items, can be used as replacement for exercise equipment for those working out at home.

In response to this time of heightened anxiety and isolation, meditation facilitator Elizabeth Paulose has opened up free meditation classes via video app Zoom, with students as far as Australia joining in.

“I am not just teaching them meditation, it is also about connecting with people. “I ask them how their day is and we have a chat and share jokes.

“For most, it is about calming the mind and relieving stress,” she said.

Her sessions are about 20 minutes long.

She added that while some of the sessions were one-on-one, others could involve multiple people including families with children.

“It is heart-warming to see people bringing their family members on board in these sessions and the best part is, it is up to their convenience,” said Paulose.

A screenshot of one of the posts in the  ‘28 Days Lockdown Home Cook Challenge’ group.A screenshot of one of the posts in the ‘28 Days Lockdown Home Cook Challenge’ group.

On a more light-hearted note, the “28 days + 14 days more MCO Lockdown Home Cook Sharing” social media page serves as a platform for Malaysians to share their kitchen creations while being housebound.

The dishes range from something simple such as peanut butter toast to those that require more preparations such as prawn noodles and steamed glutinous rice (loh mai fun).

But they all have one theme in common — to share and inspire fellow Malaysians with delicious and healthy dishes prepared at home.

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Covid-19 , virtual community , Facebook , sharing

   

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