1,500 masks for frontliners

Prof Rishya (right) and his team receiving the face masks on behalf of UMMC from the Mass Communication Students Association.

UNDAUNTED by a fundraising event that was cancelled due to the movement control order (MCO), a group of university students turned it into a different project to benefit medical frontliners.

Members of the Mass Communication Students Association at a private university had been working on their club’s annual International Women’s Week fundraising event for several months leading up to March, but had to plan an alternative project when the event was cancelled due to MCO.

Upon their lecturer’s suggestion, they decided on a smaller scale project to buy face masks for medical frontliners at University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).

“It was challenging for us to work on a project without being able to meet as a group and plan everything face-to-face,” said association president Josefin Maria Sudarman, who leads a group of 14 committee members.

“We relied on WhatsApp to communicate with each other. From planning to delivery, everything was executed within 10 days.”

She added that it was difficult for them to purchase masks in large quantities.

“The masks sold at most e-commerce sites were too expensive, unavailable in large amounts or of unsuitable quality. Some sellers thought we were buying in bulk to make a profit.

“Finally, we were able to buy some. A total of 1,500 pieces of three-ply surgical masks were sent to UMMC on April 17,” said Josefin, adding that funds used for the purchase came from the club’s previous fundraising projects.

“The club’s Women’s Week events, over the past decade, have always been charity-oriented,” said the association’s adviser Ken Choong, elaborating that the event’s previous beneficiaries included Tenaganita and Empower Malaysia.

“Students are encouraged to have a fundraising element to their project and to give back to society. They are also taught about fundraising from a business point of view.”

Choong, who is a mass communication lecturer, said the project also taught the students to be aware of current affairs and geopolitical news.

“It was a good experience for them. I’m glad students from different nationalities worked together to help Malaysia battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Universiti Malaya Faculty of Medicine Trauma and Emergency Department head and consultant Prof Datuk Dr Rishya Manikam received the face masks on behalf of UMMC.

“The project is a commendable effort by the students. Face masks are among the personal protective equipment (PPE) we need urgently as their usage is high,” he said.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic is still ongoing, we also welcome contributions from the public to buy PPE items.”

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