THE Covid-19 pandemic has continued to throw a shadow over the livelihoods of Johoreans, leaving many in need of assistance of various kinds.
Non-governmental organisations, particularly youth movements, have duly stepped in to assist frontliners in their fight against the disease and its consequences.
Apart from working at vaccination centres (PPV), young people have also participated in the distribution of food aid, donations and such other activities.
One of the volunteers met by StarMetro in Johor Baru, Lee Joe Yee, said she focused on orphanages and old folks homes, as she believes they fall into the more vulnerable categories and necessitate extra care.
“Sending help to these places is perhaps the most challenging because we are dealing with high-risk recipients.
“We ourselves must be free of symptoms when carrying out our volunteer work.
“That is why following the standard operating procedures (SOP) is very important,” she said, adding that she had been involved in volunteer work for the past nine years.
The 27-year-old Junior Chamber International (JCI) South Key president said she was drawn to this type of work as she believed it was one way people from different backgrounds could begin to understand each other.
“Misfortune can hit anyone, regardless of race or religion, and being involved in an NGO means that you are part of a group who shares your own vision of helping others get out of the situation or ease their adversity.
“Being part of an NGO also gives me the chance to work with people from other agencies and groups,” said Lee.
Sharing her viewpoints is 27-year-old bubble tea shop owner Chua Jian Boon, who is also Xiang Lian Youth Association (Kulai) chairman.
He said he had received remarkable assistance from his friends and family in the operation of his business during the movement control order period while being actively engaged in volunteer work.
“Our association works under the flag of Southern Volunteers where we help and guide the elderly in PPV centres, apart from going to housing areas or supermarkets to register members of the public on the MySejahtera app,” he said.
“The association is moved by the continuous donations of necessary items from people in Kulai, items that we deliver directly to those in need.”
One of their recent activities was delivering 420 packs of vegetables to residents of Taman Bahagia and Senai Idaman in Kulai, added Chua.
As for college student Chin Wei Bin, 23, doing volunteer work at the Persada Johor International Convention Centre (Persada) PPV has been nothing but satisfying as he gets to work side by side with frontliners in helping people get vaccinated.
“I felt a calling to help people, in guiding them from the minute they entered the lobby until they exited the building.
“Most of the time we deal with the elderly, who are in the high-risk category, so we must be extra vigilant.
“Yet, somehow, the weariness from working long hours tends to dissipate each time we hear a ‘thank you’ from the vaccine recipients,” he said.
Working among other volunteers, he said, had also been an energy booster for him.
Another student, M. Calvin Dcroix, 19, said the most important thing in volunteer work was to have patience because one dealt with all sorts of people visiting the PPV centres for vaccination.
“We need strong soft skills since we are working with hundreds of people, each with his or her unique personality, and we must guide them from checkpoint to checkpoint.
“I feel that more PPVs need the support of youths, not just because of young people’s enthusiasm, but also because it is a fantastic opportunity to get to know others and observe how our healthcare system works,” he said.
For M. Navajothi, 29, working at Persada PPV for more than a month has given her the opportunity to learn another language and enhance her vocabulary to better assist vaccine recipients at the centre.
“Sometimes recipients, especially the elderly, have trouble reading and conversing.
“So to better perform as volunteers, we should also enhance our skills.
“I used to work as an executive at a university here in the state. After resigning a few months ago, I decided to volunteer my time so that I could at least contribute to efforts in battling the pandemic,” she added.
Fairul Adzrean Mislan, 38, also decided on volunteer work after quitting the hotel industry earlier this year.
“What I am familiar with in the hotel industry is similar to what I do in the PPV centre here, so it takes less effort for me to blend in and adjust.
The Persada Malaysia Vaccine Support Volunteers (MyVac) leader continued, “The majority of the volunteers here are youngsters who have no experience in the service sector, so teaching them has been one of my priorities.
“We have become like a family of sorts among ourselves, which is reflected in our work,” he added.
Johor Prihatin volunteer Siti Aisyah Aminah Hanafiah, 23, said many of her friends had taken part in voluntary work at Persada and the Mid Valley PPV.
“I feel there is a great desire and support among the youth to do their bit and assist in simplifying the vaccination process for the public since there is a shortage of staff in the health sector.
“This is a wonderful indicator that they are eager to participate in something for the greater good,” she observed.
Kita Komuniti volunteer Justin Jerome Lowell John, 26, has been involved in volunteer work for the past three years.
But volunteering during the pandemic has turned out to be one of his tougher experiences.
“In April last year, I had one of the most unforgettable moments of my life when I handed out food aid to a mother of six,” he related.
“Her husband was in prison. It impacted me personally.”
John wondered how she would continue to survive with her children in these difficult times.
“Although the aid we gave was small, we hope that we had helped them a little in their struggles to survive day to day,” he added.