Putting food on the table of the badly hit


A ray of Hope: Volunteers handing out aid to those in need in Petaling Jaya.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians suffering from food insecurity brought upon by job and income losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic are getting some relief from caring groups and individuals.

One such organisation is Hope Selangor.

Before the pandemic, Hope Selangor delivered aid to the less fortunate, aimed at improving their livelihoods, such as free educational support.

However, co-founder Prema Thiyagu said they shifted their focus when more people, especially from the B40 and M40 groups, fell on hard times when the control movement order started in March last year.

“It was heartbreaking to see families eating only rice and salt, or surviving on instant noodles, as well as breastfeeding mothers who couldn’t even feed themselves, what more their babies, ” said Prema, who started the non-governmental organisation (NGO) with her husband, Thiyagu Renu, in 2005.

Since then, Hope Selangor started to provide cooked and surplus food and provisions to aid the needy in Klang Valley, Johor, Negri Sembilan and Perak.

“Each person is experiencing the lockdown differently. There are those earning full wages while working from home but for daily wage earners, like cleaners or eatery workers, it’s a different story, ” she said.

She said by donating RM6, fellow Malaysians can help to provide a meal for one person.

“Our aim is to change one life at a time, ” said Prema, who also works full-time at a prominent human rights NGO.

Non-profit organisation Happy Bank, through its #TengokJiranKita initiative which started in March last year, also gave out essential items such as groceries, formula milk and diapers to the poor, nationwide.

Its co-founder Ainie Haziqah Shafii said the organisation aims to support the underprivileged and under-served communities regardless of their background.

Its #TengokJiranKita initiative urges people to reach out to Happy Bank, which started in 2014, if they know of anyone facing difficulties.

Ainie said there were many ways to support this initiative including contributing in cash or kind, as well as sharing about it on social media.

“I want to emphasise, regardless of the recipients’ background, we will help as much as we can. We have been helping refugees, migrant workers and transgender folk, ” said Ainie, who is a lawyer by profession.

Social enterprise The Good Kitchen and human rights NGO Engage are leading the MakanKongsi 2.0 programme with election watchdog Bersih 2.0 as a supporting organisation during this lockdown.

They aim to raise RM500, 000 from now until the end of July to buy essentials for at least 30, 000 urban and rural poor, fishermen, Orang Asli, migrant workers and refugees.

“We are relaunching this campaign as MakanKongsi 2.0 in view of the prolonged Covid-19 crisis, ” they said.

There are also smaller groups doing such projects to aid the poor. One such establishment is the Kongsi Rezeki project.

Started and run by a group of five women, all hiking friends, they provided 11 urban poor families, mostly from the low-cost housing projects in Kuala Lumpur, with supplies such as rice, eggs, cooking oil, salt and flour during the fasting month.

“If you can contribute to those in need, not necessarily with just money, then do it. This can help offload some of their burdens, ” said the group representative who wants to be anonymous.

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