ST Nicholas Home in Penang that has faithfully assisted the blind and visually impaired for almost a century is now facing financial woes due to the movement control order (MCO).
The home’s general manager David Chiang said the unforeseen Covid-19 outbreak has pulled the brakes on their yearly fundraising events as well as dampened their regular pool of donations which has reduced by 80%.
“We can probably sustain the home until June but that too we will have to dip into our reserves, something we have never touched.
“It was kept as a last resort resource and we did not imagine needing to touch the money.
“We are a non-governmental organisation that depends solely on donations. We usually have a lot of walk-in donors but now, these donations have slowed down tremendously.
“We depend on some income from our pastry sales, massages and handicraft but now, all those operations have been halted due to the MCO.
“As we currently do not have an online platform, we cannot seek help through our website, ” he said when at the home in Jalan Bagan Jermal, Penang, Monday.
According to Chiang, most of their trainees have been sent home but there are still five of them at the home as they come from Johor Baru, Sabah and Sarawak.
“They need to fly back but flights have been suspended.
“With the staff on paid leave and only five trainees, our food expenditure is reduced but we still need about RM110,000 to run the place, with expenses including paying our staff of 40 their salary, the electricity, utilities, cleaning services, security and maintenance, ” he said.
Chiang said they are still paying their staff their full salary as it is the right thing to do.
“They did not bring this upon themselves but we are worried how much longer we can carry on.
“We usually need RM140,000 a month and raise funds at the beginning of the year, in September at our usual carnival and then at the end of the year.
“We project when to look for funds based on how much we have collected every few months.
“This time, however, everything has been thrown off due to the pandemic. We will not be able to hold the carnival in September and we are draining our funds, ” he said.
The home currently caters to 75 blind and visually impaired residents, including children, trainees, staff members and senior citizens.
“We also have a staff of 40, comprising teachers, carers, cooks and housekeeping, among others.
“Many of the students who have been sent back are halfway through their course. They do not have the means to have classes online.
“We have to wait till they can resume their course and then probably postpone new intakes.
“We do hope to start lessons as soon as possible to cater to our trainees but we understand that social distancing will need to be practised as well, ” he said.
St Nicholas Home has been faithfully assisting the blind and visually impaired regardless of race, religion, creed, or age for the past 90 years.
Established as an orphanage in 1926, the home has since grown to become a fully residential training centre.
Those interested in helping SNH can donate to its bank accounts at Maybank (5070 6812 4535) and CIMB Bank (800 3960 785).
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating your personal details (full name, NRIC, handphone number and home address) with a photo of the transaction slip and state it as COVID-19RF.
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