QUEUES at supermarkets are fast becoming a norm as people source for their daily essentials while practising social distancing during this movement control order (MCO).
Amid this scenario, residents of a condominium in Kuala Lumpur have shown that good neighbourliness is the solution to the problem.
The Residensi Vyne community took adhering to the restriction order to the next level by not only staying at home but also minimising the need for them to go out and get daily essentials. One person now buys for a group.
One of those entrusted with the task is Celine Ng.
“When MCO started, everyone was worried about where to get groceries as there was a shortage of certain items in the beginning.
“We have a WhatsApp group chat where we communicate on Vyne-related matters, so we use that space for daily updates on the availability of essential items and situations at the supermarkets we visited, among others.
“Residents will also share groceries and food delivery details that they receive via WhatsApp. One person will volunteer to coordinate group-purchasing, ” she said.
She has helped other residents to buy bread when there was a shortage of the staple in the shops, by contacting a bread company.
“Instead of all residents going out for the same item, now only one person runs the errand.
“I have to catch the bread van at dawn to collect the loaves before they are out of stock, ” she added.
Ng, 40, said those who did the buying did not accept cash and all transactions were through online payment or e-wallet, to minimise contact as much as possible.
“We disinfect the packaging and go block by block to deliver the orders.
“Some will collect for their immediate neighbours at the same time, ” she said.
The condominium consists of four blocks.
Coordinating orders and managing distribution of goods is a tedious task, let alone doing so for the whole Vyne community.
Cheam Yee Siew, 47, has helped to coordinate buying fresh seafood for the group.
“Residents often help to alert each other as some may have overlooked the WhatsApp messages and suddenly find themselves in need of certain foodstuff.
“Those who come to the pickup-point to collect their orders will sometimes help with the delivery to others, ” said Cheam.
Joe Koh agrees the “bulk purchase” method for daily necessities is a better way.
The 35-year-old restaurant owner offered lunch with free delivery at the beginning of the MCO and his initiative gradually expanded to meat, vegetables and fruits via orders from his regular supplier.
“At first, I was just helping my neighbours buy their necessities whenever I go to and from my restaurant.
“In the process, I saw that some items were overpriced and I felt that our living expenses should not increase during this crucial time.
“So I decided to help my neighbours get essential foods from my supplier at a lower cost.
“I just do my part to help out until everything goes back to normal after the MCO is over, ” he said.
Koh coordinates orders in the WhatsApp group chat on specific days and goes block to block to send the items delivered to his restaurant by the supplier.
His girlfriend, Edsel Chong, works in the food and beverage industry and joins his neighbours’ initiative by helping residents to purchase fresh bread, pastries and baking items.
Resident Amanda Soo, 35, is thankful to be part of the Vyne community and grateful to have such kind neighbours, especially when she is busy with two young children.
“As a mother of a newborn, I cannot do much to help with the group buying since I cannot leave the house yet.
“Hence, I rely heavily on my husband to get the groceries and baby products.
“But the group buying initiated by our neighbours makes it so much easier and I get the exact brands that I need, ” she said.
Soo also expressed her relief knowing that all her neighbours were complying with the MCO and the condominium’s joint management body (JMB) was quick to act on cleaning every nook and cranny of the common areas with disinfectant daily in addition to issuing clear memos on the dos and don’ts in the residence.
Also feeling proud of his neighbours’ initiative is Balachandran Sreedharan.
“Even though the MCO has caused a lot of negative impact on us, the current situation has certainly brought all of us closer than before through a much livelier WhatsApp group chat.
“Needless to say, we will not have to worry about going hungry, ” he quipped.
“I can get fresh bread, fish and vegetables delivered directly to my lobby, thanks to all the kind neighbours here.
“This initiative shows awesome spirit and I believe this will be continued as a lifestyle even after the MCO has been lifted, ” said the 42-year-old automotive detailing franchise owner.
He had undergone self-quarantine upon returning from India on March 24 after assisting stranded Malaysians to come home a day after MCO was announced.
Aside from group buying, some residents have also made an effort to stay healthy throughout the MCO by working out together via Zoom app.
“Prior to the MCO, Ng and I had been working out within our compound with another resident here, Jaymz Leong who is our trainer, ” said Cheam.
“But we decided to continue with the fitness class, so Leong conducts the sessions for us via Zoom twice a week.
“We will meet virtually at dawn and exercise on our own balconies for an hour each time.
“I look forward to the workout as it freshens me up to start my day properly although I am just staying at home, ” added Cheam.
Additionally, some residents also show compassion to the poor and those working in the essential
services during these hard times, by sponsoring food for foreign workers, security guards who work long hours and families without any income.
Residensi Vyne JMB chairman Izharul Hafiz Hasnawi, 45, lauded the residents’ initiatives and compliance during this MCO period.
“Initially, there was a bit of confusion over what was permitted within the compound, but the JMB together with the management office and security guards had managed to inform and educate the residents.
“This neighbourly connection in the WhatsApp group chat has made it easier for the committee and the management to communicate information more effectively.
“People are offering help in any way that they can to make things easier for others and to create more positivity during this difficult time.
“We have become a more caring community and this sends a clear signal that we are not alone. We will survive this ordeal together, ” he said.
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