Malaysia’s got golden hearts

Teddy Doctor: S. Madhusudhan, who started a mobile clinic for the homeless, says the Golden Hearts Award inspired others to help those in need. — CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Since December last year, both friends and strangers have contacted Shirin Aziha Shahidan to find out how they can help “Uncle Ah San” – an 81-year-old widower suffering from elephantiasis living on his own – and start their own projects to help the needy.

More people have volunteered for Dr S. Madhusudhan’s Teddy Mobile Clinic for the homeless and also found other ways to help those living on the streets.

Shirin and Madhusudhan were among the 10 winners of the inaugural Star Golden Hearts Award last December, which honoured individuals and groups who went out of their way to help others in need, regardless of race, religion or status.

Nominations are open until Oct 1 for this year’s Star Golden Hearts Award and the winners will be announced in December. (See factbox.)

The Star’s Golden Hearts Award 2016 is supported by Gamuda. There will be a special category called the Gamuda’s Choice Award: Inspiration for A Moderate Malaysia.

The winner will be the one that comes closest to fulfilling the criteria set out for the Gamuda’s Choice Award: one who has carried out acts of heroism, altruism and moderation; whose deeds inspire others to perform acts of kindness; whose moderate way of life makes a difference to and/or impacts others; who is an agent of change for a better Malaysia; and, who upholds the spirit of Muhibbah, which in the Malaysian context means goodwill and tolerance.

Last year’s winners received cash, a certificate and a trophy. They say the award not only helped raised awareness of their causes but also inspired others either to help them or find new ways to reach out to those in need.

And for another winner, the Mount Kinabalu Guides Association, the cash helped tide the 250 members through a lean period after the June 2015 earthquake. “It was a very big help because we didn’t have enough work yet,” said president Richard Soibi.

The award was also shared with the families of Robbi Sapinggi and Joseph Solungin, the two guides who died during the rescue effort.

Shirin, who was recognised for caring for her friend Lim “Uncle Ah San” Kim Sung, said after winning her award, former neighbours donated money towards Lim’s care and went to visit him. Others made monthly pledges of RM50 to RM250 for Lim.

Shirin herself donated half of her cash award to Lim and put the rest into her parents’ baking business.

Shirin and Syed Azmi Alhabshi, whose FreeMarket group also won the Golden Hearts Award, were invited by a government-linked company last month to share about their projects.

“The talk opened up our eyes that our problems are small compared to bigger challenges faced by others,” said Hizam Kadir at the GLC. Some of them are now helping the victims of the recent flash flood in Dengkil.

Madhusudhan used his cash award to buy medicines for his weekly mobile clinic for the homeless, urban poor and the needy. He also has got more support and more volunteers since he won the Golden Hearts Award.

“Many realised what we are doing and joined us,” he said, while others started giving back to the community in their own way. “For example, after they realised there are many homeless people, some friends started to collect clothing and give it to them.”

And for him, that was the true value of the award.

“It’s not that we want to be famous,” he stressed, “but we want to inspire others.”

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