Golden hearts for white flags

Muhammad Fuad (far right) helping those in need at his food bank in Bangi

Muhammad Fuad Khairul Azman, 27, street trader, father of three

I’m neither rich nor part of any non-governmental organisation. Whatever I do is just to help my fellow rakyat survive in these hard times.

About a month ago, I started a food bank near where I live in Bangi for those in need.

Sometimes, I also deliver food to their houses, especially those who don’t own vehicles.

I lost my job as a restaurant worker last year. Things were so bad that I couldn’t pay my rent. Other residents in Bangi helped me through that difficult time.

Now that I’m more stable financially, I want to give back to the community with my food bank, even if it’s just on a small scale.

At first, I used my own money but after my efforts were well received by other residents, they also chipped in to help. Without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off.

Every day, I help different people but their stories are the same – they just need help.

Alhamdulillah, we were able to help 700 needy families in June.

I know that people in many other areas are also in need of assistance. We are doing our best to help them too.

I hope the #BenderaPutih movement will continue on social media so that we can keep helping those who are struggling, regardless of race or religion.

The most heartbreaking moment I have experienced in my efforts so far was when I visited a family who had asked for help. They told me their five children had not eaten for two days.

The parents had lost their income three months ago and job openings were scarce.

For this Merdeka Day, my hope is that all Malaysians will keep helping one another.

We should all help those in need without judging if they are in the low-income, middle-income or high-income bracket.

Either way, you will be sure to put a smile on another person’s face.

Sharon, 48, company senior manager

God has blessed my family despite the pandemic. Having a full-time job in a multi-national company during these times has enabled me to keep my family financially stable. But we know that so many others are struggling to put food on the table.

My husband and I came from B40 (low-income) households, where our fathers were the sole breadwinners and often struggled to feed us. So, we understand what other people are going through.

It’s not easy to ask for help and when they do, it’s really out of desperation, so it’s sad to see people in that situation.

The #BenderaPutih initiative has enabled us to reach out directly to people in dire need of aid.

My husband and I are using our own funds to provide groceries and household items to those who request aid under #BenderaPutih.

We had always saved money for travel purposes as I love to travel. But with all travel plans on hold now, we can use those excess funds to help others.

So far, the people we have extended help to are those who have moved from other parts of Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur. My heart really goes out to them.

It reminds me of the time I was in Singapore and had the opportunity to get to know migrants from South Asia and how they struggled to make ends meet.

I know how lonely and helpless it can feel when you are far from home.

Having experienced the joy of giving, we definitely want to continue such efforts, even beyond the movement control order.

We want to be an example to our children, give without expecting returns, share the joy of giving with them and share God’s blessings with those in need.

Phoebe Lui, 44, mother of three

When I heard about the #BenderaPutih initiative, I immediately wanted to help out.

I started out wanting to help people in my area with my own funds, but there were a few obstacles.For one, I was not able to drive around to distribute aid due to a tennis elbow injury. But I didn’t let that stop me.

I started ordering food and other necessities online for families with young children in other states who could not get help.

Requests for aid came from all over Malaysia, so I directed information to non-governmental organisations and food banks to help steer their support teams to the relevant areas.

To expand my efforts, I realised that I needed to either join forces with a group of people or find more established local teams like NGOs or soup kitchens.

Luckily, I found a group in my area called White Flag Klang, which has helped many people in need. Now, I direct people to them and also plan to contribute items to be donated to needy families.

Hearing about people who asked for help but did not receive any response makes me feel sad.

In one case, pleas for help by a family of foreigners kept getting rejected left and right. Thankfully, they managed to receive aid from White Flag Klang.

I will keep contributing wherever I can and share with others what people here are doing to help one another because we are all rakyat Malaysia.

It’s really humbling to be a tiny part of the #BenderaPutih campaign.

The rakyat are quietly and humbly giving and helping each other. In return, those who receive the help are very grateful to their fellow citizens.

I do hope that we will all continue to work together to flatten the Covid-19 curve.

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