PETALING JAYA: Some days, after his work is done, ERA radio presenter Haniff Hamzah would get in his car to pick up a senior citizen for their vaccination appointment.
While driving them to get their dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the 37-year-old popularly known for his JoHaRa Pagi Era segment, admits that he gets his own dose of excitement from listening to their stories.
“I learnt so many things from them. My grandparents passed away a long time ago so I feel like a cucu (grandson) listening to a grandparent, it is fun,” he said.
Haniff, who belongs to a small group of volunteers ferrying seniors living in Subang Jaya and USJ to get their Covid-19 vaccine jabs, wanted to help encourage more people, especially senior citizens, to be inoculated against the virus.
“I do it when I can. For a lot of people who didn’t get the vaccine, it’s not because they don’t want to.
“They do want to but they might have financial constraints because they are in the urban poor group or they have no one to take them to the appointment as their children aren’t around.
“It is also due to my realisation that I have been lucky enough that my employers gave me a full salary until now while many others had to take pay cuts or worse, lose their jobs,” said Haniff.
Last year, Haniff and his colleague Radin Amir Effendi, gave out some of their pay to people in need during the movement control order.
However, 14 months later, Haniff said he had to be careful with his expenditure since he is now unable to take up emcee jobs for events like he used to, which has limited his income streams.
“Being a radio host is now my only source of income although I’m not complaining, it’s just that my personal funds are also depleting.
“So I thought let's continue helping without forking out any more of my own funds.
“I also wanted to use my social media platform to convince more people to take the vaccine and help those who are unable to get it,” he said.
Therefore, a few weeks ago, he posted on his Twitter and Instagram where he has over 100,000 and 250,000 followers respectively, to promote his service to ferry senior citizens in Petaling Jaya, where he lives, to their appointments.
“I didn’t get a response from anyone who needed that service,” he said.
However, soon after, his tweet was shared by a friend who lives in USJ with a social worker who is active in the Subang Jaya area named Har Yin Geong, who decided to start a volunteer group among the youth there to extend the effort.
“I was later invited to the WhatsApp group of these volunteers. This was about three weeks ago.
“Now the group has grown to 25 volunteers. Mr Har gathers the senior citizens in need of help to get vaccinated and shares their details in the WhatsApp group.
“Volunteers would take up as and when it is suitable for them,” said Haniff, adding that so far, the group has assisted over 100 senior citizens in the Subang Jaya and USJ areas.
“As of Monday, I have done four. I would drive them to their appointment location and if they don’t need to be accompanied inside, then I would sit in my car, read a book, and wait for them to be done.
“If they need to be accompanied, then I will be there with them. I would give them some pep talk if they're scared of the needle,” he said.
He feels happy to be able to contribute, said Haniff, adding that he also believed that he had played a small role in influencing others to do good.
As the group got bigger, Haniff said the Subang Jaya assemblyman's office had helped them obtain a permission letter from the authorities.
“Personally, after that Tweet where I expressed my intention to help ferry senior citizens, no one responded that they needed such help, but I got many responses from people saying that they wanted to do the same thing in their area.
“So I try to assist by suggesting to them to start by asking their neighbours if they need any help,” he said.
Haniff encourages the young to do their part in contributing to the society amid the pandemic, saying that if they have limited financial resources to share, they could give their time and energy.
“Generally, volunteering is the best way to help each other and it leaves such an impact.
“As we are still young and strong, I think we are the correct group to help others,” he said.