Paying it forward by helping the homeless

IPOH: It started with a video, and now Susan Ho Sue Fun has been running Pay It Forward Ipoh (Pifi) by serving about 250 packs of food on a weekly basis.

She saw a video of a customer paying extra for his meal and the restaurant owner then wrote something on the wall.

Kind soul: Ho packing the food before distributing it to the homeless  in Ipoh.Kind soul: Ho packing the food before distributing it to the homeless in Ipoh.

“Another customer saw this and asked about it. The owner explained that the extra payment is for those who are in need of food or drinks.

“That is how Pifi started in 2015,” said Ho, 34.

Together with a friend, they started giving out 25 packs of food to the homeless here.

“At that time, my mother was running a stall at a food court. I put up a board and asked customers if they were interested in paying in advance for meals for the homeless.

“My mother was in charge of cooking the food according to the amount paid for.

“My friend and I then carried the food around and gave it to every homeless person we met.

“The smile on their faces has just kept me going all these years,” she said.

She said prior to Pifi, she had some experience as a volunteer.

“Except for a change in schedule, the ongoing movement control implemented since last year never stopped me and my team from giving out food every Saturday.

“We used to distribute the food at night but during the restriction on movement, we would start earlier at around 5pm,” she said.

Instead of her mother preparing the food, a restaurant has been helping them out.

“We are very thankful for the continuous support of sponsors who made our distributions operate smoothly... (and) most importantly, our volunteers who have stuck with us all this while.”

She said there would be between four and 10 volunteers per session.

“There are also days when it is just me and a volunteer,” she added.

One Pifi volunteer, S. Rajiv, said Ho would continue serving food even where it was raining heavily.

“There are days when we don’t have any volunteers, yet it doesn’t stop her from handing out the food,” he said.

He said he also admired her for making sure that everyone in the team would work together.

Rajiv, 36, said Ho’s energetic character was what helped Pifi keep on helping those in need.

“Previously, we had some people using Pifi’s name to get funds. Since then, she has become strict when it comes to money donated because she doesn’t want it to be used wrongly,” he said.

Apart from serving food, he said they would also cut hair for the homeless.

Another volunteer who wished to be known as Benny, 52, said he learned a lot from Ho.

“Although she is younger than me, I learned many things during our time together. She has this high energy that makes everyone want to keep on giving and helping the homeless.

“I have been a part of Pifi for a few months. We would pack the food from the restaurant and drive around town, looking for the homeless,” he said.

Rain or shine, Benny said they would keep on going until they finished distributing food for that day.

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