PRIVATE corporations and non-governmental organisations have been busy spreading festive cheer among the less privileged in Johor. In Batu Pahat and Pontian, Petronas Foundation and Southern Region Petronas --- with the help of the Welfare Department --- distributed essential goods and hygiene kits to 400 single mothers, the disabled and low-income families.
One of the recipients in Batu Pahat was housewife Jamila Mahadi, 68, who cares for her bedridden husband who suffered a stroke four years ago.
“I have to juggle between taking care of him and making various kuih for sale at bazaars for income, ” she said.
“The goodies that were distributed to us added cheer to my family’s celebration and saved my household some money.”
Southern Region Petronas general manager Sazli Zakaria said giving out RM60,000 worth of cooking oil, rice, glutinous rice, eggs, sugar, salt, festive cookies and hygiene kits was the organisations’ way of lessening the burden of the less-privileged communities at this time.
The Petronas Foundation distributes essential items during major festive celebrations annually.
In Johor Baru, Paragon Globe Bhd and Paragon Market Place in their first joint collaboration visited two orphanages — Asrama Kebajikan Ar-Rayyan and Pusat Jagaan Kasih Setanggi — to spread festive cheer to 120 children and teenagers in need.
Paragon Globe group executive director and Joland Group executive director Datuk Seri Tan Pei Poh said the effort was their way of giving back to society.
The children, aged four to 17, received essential items such as rice, cooking oil, chocolate malt drinks, toiletries and detergents.
“We also gave them each a money packet and goodie bag in hopes that our small gesture will help ease the orphanages’ financial burden during the Covid-19 pandemic, ” added Tan.
Meanwhile, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) handed out 1,000 sticks of lemang to the community at Rumah Iskandar Malaysia (RIM) for the festive season. RIM is a rental-based affordable housing project in Iskandar Malaysia.
Irda chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the lemang was distributed with a pack of rendang and 300 bags filled with essential items to help those in the community whose income had been affected by the pandemic.
“Forty volunteers from Irda and RIM helped prepare, cook and distribute the food packs while complying strictly with the standard operating procedure, ” he said.
Over in Kluang, 24 students from SMK Canossian Convent received duit raya from Asia Pacific Forum on Families Malaysia (Afpam) under the non-governmental organisation’s (NGO) Raya aid project.
Each student was given RM100 while their parents received RM400.
Azah Mahani Omar, the teacher in charge of student affairs at the school, thanked Afpam for carrying out the initiative.
Afpam member Peter Soo, who distributed duit raya with local philanthropist and former Johor exco member Datuk Jimmy Low, observed that the pandemic had highlighted the vulnerability of the poor, who were struggling to put food on the table.
“I hope more NGOs and aid organisations will continue to help in alleviating the hardship of the poor and needy in the community, ” said Soo.
“I am thankful that Afpam, under the leadership of its founding president Puan Sri Dr Jamilah Ariffin, has been reaching out to the underprivileged for the past 25 years.”
He added that the NGO, run by a group of experienced social welfare workers, was committed to the cause of helping the poor and underprivileged, including during Deepavali and Christmas, as well as aiding Rohingya families.