Clothing the needy with dignity

  • Nation
  • Friday, 25 Nov 2016

PETALING JAYA: Receiving hand-me-down clothes isn’t much joy. Having to scramble for them just makes it worse.

When Universiti Malaya lecturer Dr Rusaslina Idrus encountered such cases, she felt she had to do something about it.

“When people donate clothes, they usually dump it on the floor and expect the poor to grab whatever they can get. Women, children and the aged are often left out in the scramble. They deserve some dignity and respect,” she said.

Dr Rusaslina and her students decided in mid-2015 to have a one-off project to provide clothes and toiletries to the homeless of Kuala Lumpur using a pop-up store concept. But ha­ving launched it, they saw the need to keep it going. The project has since became a passion.

Dr Rusaslina and her students at the UM Gender Studies Programme Faculty became inspired to set up Kedai Jalanan (or Street Shop), a monthly pop-up store along Jalan Panggung in the city centre.

There, clothes are hung up on racks and other items displayed in boxes to enable “street customers” to choose what they need.

For her innovative idea which gave this underprivileged group a chance to “shop” with dignity and respect, Dr Rusaslina was chosen as one of the winners of the Star Golden Hearts Award 2016.

Into its second year, the award celebrates Malaysia’s everyday heroes from all walks of life, who act in a selfless manner to build bridges between different communities and promote racial harmony and unity.

Dr Rusaslina said she was grateful for the overwhelming support.

“Faculty staff, students, family and friends contributed wholeheartedly in cash and kind.

“Some items like sanitary pads and proper clothes for interviews have to be new. We plan to assess our customers’ needs to see what else can be done,” she said after the Star Golden Hearts Award 2016 ceremony at Menara Star here yesterday. This year’s event is supported by Gamuda.

Dr Rusaslina also bagged a new award – the Star-Gamuda Inspiration Award: Towards a Moderate Malaysia, which comes with a RM50,000 prize.

The judges this year were Ecoworld Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Star Media Group CEO and managing director Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, Malaysian Care executive director Dr Wong Young Soon, Malaysian AIDS Foundation chairman Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Universiti Malaya Department of Parasitology Prof Dr G. Suresh Kumar, Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd managing director Anas Zubedy, DC&A Group of Companies managing director and Higher Education Ministry entrepreneurship in higher education council member Datuk David Chua and The Star editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh.

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