“Jing gu long mo kang yien lo” was the greeting in the Foochow dialect from central market hawkers when they saw volunteers of Sibu Benevolent Society resuming their Sunday collection of groceries.
Loosely translated as “long time no see”, the volunteers led by the society’s vice-chairman Robert Chew had stopped their Sunday routine for eight months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
They had been visiting the market for the past 30 years seeking donated food items for the consumption of their centre’s residents.
The hawkers generously handed over vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken and dried food to the eight volunteers as they went around the market.
One woman even asked Chew whether she could donate face masks.
“This (collection) is long overdue and the stall owners told us they had missed the sound of the ringing of our bell every Sunday,” said Chew.
He said during the eight-month stoppage, the centre was supported by donors who personally sent food items to them.
“The donations were sufficient for the consumption of our 28 residents,” he added.
On booster doses for the residents, he said they were not eligible for them yet.
“Their second Pfizer dose was at the end of June.
“They only require a booster six months later.
“However, some employees who met the criteria have already received their doses,” said Chew.
The centre is still closed to visitors, even for those who are fully vaccinated.
Family members who want to visit their loved ones, can only do so at the gate.
Chew said they would soon be accepting new residents as they had received applications.
“We will interview them first to see if they are able to take care of themselves while at our centre.
“They will also have to undergo a medical check-up as we do not accept those with serious illnesses.
“We are not a nursing home,” he said.
Chew said although no fees were charged, family members were encouraged to give what they could afford.
“We have 10 employees on our payroll but have not received funding from the government for two years,” he said.