WE HEAR people lamenting the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic almost every day, whether from the news, social media or while having breakfast at our favourite kopitiam.
When the four-week conditional movement control order was implemented throughout peninsular Malaysia from Nov 9, except in Perlis, Kelantan and Pahang, I could almost hear a collective groan over the government’s decision made in reaction to the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia.
Understandably, the first thing that comes to our minds is the economic impact and the survival of businesses but when you look at it from a different perspective, you can see that it is not all just doom and gloom.
For 14-year-old Muhammad Harris Ahamad, the conditional MCO and MCO (enforced on March 18) were like a gift as he could spend quality time with his mother Aidah Abd Rahman, 47.
“I got to spend more time with my mummy, hanging out at home and helping her, even if it is just running errands.
“We even celebrated our birthdays at home together, blowing out candles and cutting cake.
“Although it is simple, it is very meaningful for us, ” he said.
Aidah, a special projects manager at an investment holding company, said working from home enabled her to manage her time better as she discovered the joys of cooking, supervising her son’s homework and caring for her ill mother -– all while getting her work assignments done.
“Working from home puts my usual multitasking at work to shame.
“With my 74-year-old mother in her early stage of dementia, I feel that the MCO allows me to spend more time with my loved ones.
“As a busy working mum, my son has little face time with me so we cherish these moments together. Maybe lots of children with working parents feel the same way too, ” she added.
Activist R. Chitra, 41, and her sons Sacheen, 10, and Rovan Prakash, eight, from SK Bandar Putra Kulai delved into charity work during the MCO, donating their toys and books to underprivileged children.
She said her sons took advantage of the stay-home period to spring clean their house and found that they had many items still in good condition.
They decided to donate the items and their efforts then bloomed into an ongoing project.
“I wanted to make full use of our time together to teach them about the importance of generosity, caring for others and always lending a helping hand.
“For Deepavali, we gathered items like clothes, books, stationery, face masks, hand sanitisers and personal hygiene kits in our boxes of joy and gave them to 19 less fortunate children at a welfare home in Kulai.
“The best part is, the charity project showed us that there are many kind-hearted people out there who will not hesitate to help, ” she said.
Ai Zhi Yong, a 28-year-old art teacher from Kluang, said the MCO gave him the idea of using coffee to paint the district’s iconic buildings to raise funds for a children’s home that he runs with a few friends.
“Not only that, I also explored painting using food colouring derived from ingredients such as butterfly pea flower, curry powder, ginger and squid ink.
“I made it a point to collect discarded ingredients from the wet market, to prevent wastage.
“I am planning to incorporate food colouring painting in my classes soon, hoping that I can teach my students about reducing food waste at the same time, ” added Ai.
Art therapy practitioner and former teacher Ong Yee Min, 34, got creative and thought of fun activities for her children to do at home.
She engaged her children in activities including washing the car, learning how to hold chopsticks, experimenting with simple science projects, arts and crafts and also home aerobics because they could no longer go for their daily strolls at parks.
“Children get bored easily especially when they are cooped up indoors for long hours, so it is best to also find activities that they can do within the compound of the house.”
Ong added that she lets her children join in when cooking meals or making pastries to let them handle different types of dough or ingredients.
On a personal front, like many Malaysians, I spent most of my time at home when the nation went into the MCO and that was when I seriously got into yoga and also learnt some basic Spanish online.
During that time, my mother who is in essential services, continued working and I was put in charge of cooking, washing and keeping the house clean — something that I do not normally do due to the nature of my work.
Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed my time at home immensely despite having to do more labour-intensive work because it gave me more quality time with my family, reminding me to appreciate the little things in life.
It also showed me how hard my mother works to balance home and work life all this while, further deepening my admiration for her.
Since the conditional MCO for Johor, along with Kedah, Melaka and Terengganu, was lifted on Nov 21, perhaps it would be a good time to reflect on the positive things that came out of your stay-home period.
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