Citizens show kind side during virus crisis


Food for frontliners: A PichaEats runner delivering meals to a hospital. — Pic courtesy of Kelvin Cheah Kheng Tatt

PETALING JAYA: From crowdfunding medical supplies to a virtual music festival, Malaysians are banding together to perform heartwarming acts of kindness for those in need during the Covid-19 crisis.

Many of these collective efforts have raised up to tens of thousands of ringgit for those in need over the span of just a few days, as compiled by R.AGE’s #StandTogether kindness team, which has been collecting stories of kindness and positivity.

It took a group of Malaysians just 48 hours to organise Festival Duduk Rumah, a virtual music and arts festival to raise funds for #Meals4Medics and Mercy Malaysia.

The virtual festival, which took place via a Facebook livestream, featured 12 performances from indigenous musicians, comedians and more raised over RM11,000 on Sunday night.



“We started with a general idea to raise funds for frontliners, and to connect Malaysians in a human sense. We delivered our festival to show that we can connect with each other in this time of isolation,” said festival organiser Adrian Yeo.

Malaysian author Hanna Alkaf said it took her and a few others less than a day to launch Kita Jaga Kita, a website listing Covid-19 efforts by civil society individuals and organisations.

“I started a Twitter thread compiling positive things that people on the ground are doing for their communities, and a few people contacted me to ask how they can do more. We started a WhatsApp group, and in 24 hours, we launched the site,” said Hanna.

The website at www.kitajaga.us has received 18,500 views since it was launched on March 18.

“It’s small, simple things which we won’t think about on a daily basis, but in times like these, you can see the best of our humanity coming through.”

Local businesses and individuals are also chiming in with efforts to support the medical frontlines.

A doctor who works at a local university hospital, Dr Timothy Cheng, raised nearly RM32,000 in 72 hours via a personal crowdfunding exercise to buy face masks, hospital gowns and other supplies for frontline medical officers.

“I posted on Facebook as a social experiment to see how many would respond and give money to a stranger on a trust basis,” said Dr Cheng.

“It was meant to be a small thing but over 20 strangers have donated so far. It’s heartwarming because under no other circumstances you’ll give money to a stranger and trust that they will use the money to help, but now we see strangers helping strangers.”

Meanwhile, social enterprise PichaEats managed to collect funds for 3,200 meals in less than three days through its pay-it-forward Zaza Movement, which provides free meals to those in need.

The free meals will be delivered to hospitals, police stations, two refugee communities, an old folks’ home and university students.

“The positivity is overwhelming. People are sending in money and saying that they just want to be a part of this,” said PichaEats co-founder Suzanne Ling.

While some groups are contributing donations and supplies, Axiata Analytics Centre and advocacy group Project Liber8 put their expertise on migrants rights issues to good use by working over a weekend to launch a chat bot that counters disinformation.

“We compiled verified information about the Covid-19 situation, and had help to translate them into Bengali, Nepali, Bahasa Indonesia and Burmese,” said Project Liber8 founder and executive director New Su Shern.

The #StandTogether campaign was founded in 2018 by R.AGE and property developer SP Setia to emphasise the importance of kindness and empathy in society.

To share more stories of kindness during the Covid-19 outbreak, email the #StandTogether team at alltherage@thestar.com.my.

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kindness , R.AGE , funds , pandemic , coronavirus

   

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