Putting poor’s needs above own hardship

People lining up outside Noorfazlinda’s bubble tea shop along Jalan Hang Tuah to collect food packs.

DESPITE lacklustre earnings and financial hardship, three restaurant owners in Melaka are putting their personal problems aside to assist those in dire need of help.

These restaurateurs are lending a helping hand by delivering meals to needy folk under home quarantine as well as to migrant workers and orphans in the state.

Bertam Satay owner Denny Long Wei Siong sets aside RM20 from his daily sales at his shop in Taman Paya Rumput Utama, Cheng, to buy groceries for those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Long, 40, said he decided to continue his grandmother’s legacy of helping others as she often gave to the poor her traditional Peranakan Chinese satay that she cooked at her rickety wooden pushcart in the 1980s.

“My grandma believed that providing food to others was a blessing. I am emulating her good deeds despite facing a decline in sales since the pandemic started,” he said.

He also delivers free packets of satay to his customers who have become jobless.

Long preparing satay for his customers who are facing hardship.Long preparing satay for his customers who are facing hardship.

“Some of my loyal customers are unable to order satay due to financial constraints, so I deliver it to them, for free, on weekends,” he said.

There are even customers from as far as Tampin in Negri Sembilan who share on social media how they are missing his satay dipped in peanut sauce, but currently cannot afford to order the dish.

Knowing how many have fallen on hard times, Long takes it upon himself to deliver satay to his regular customers to maintain his good relationship with them.

“I know they will support me once their financial situation improves. For now, money is not important, ” he said.

His grandmother’s sauce recipe, which has curry powder and turmeric among its ingredients, is as it was 30 years ago.

Long has also reserved a corner of his shop to store dry foodstuff.

The items are given to families facing difficulties and sent to welfare homes that request for help.

Another restaurateur is touching the hearts of Melakans whenever he responds to social media posts from foreign workers and families who are without food.

T. Thanabalan, 66, from Seremban, Negri Sembilan, is continuing his late wife’s charitable work by feeding the hungry despite having to pay for transportation to deliver food to Melaka.

His late wife Mary Goh Mei Ling used to help migrant workers and cancer patients, he said.

“I used to organise about three to four charity events at my restaurant when times were good, and I continue this effort even though it is a struggle to stay afloat during this pandemic,” he said.

Thanabalan prepares the food packs at his Curry Leaf Restaurant in Jalan Rasah, Seremban, before sending them off to Alor Gajah and into the heart of Melaka.

He gets information on hungry folk from WhatsApp groups and Facebook.

Thanabalan ensures that donated meals are nutritious so that the recipients can enjoy a hearty meal.

The meals of briyani, chicken and mutton curry, eggs and various vegetables are packed and sent to mig-rant workers in dire need of food.

Thanabalan preparing food packs at his restaurant in Seremban for distribution to migrant workers in Alor Gajah, Melaka.Thanabalan preparing food packs at his restaurant in Seremban for distribution to migrant workers in Alor Gajah, Melaka.

Besides Melaka, Thanabalan also provides meals to migrants in Selangor and Negri Sembilan.

The father of three recently sent food to a family in Semambok, Melaka, after learning of their plight through WhatsApp.

Another caring entrepreneur who is doing her part for the needy is Noorfazlinda Tambi Chek.

Noorfazlinda, 32, is the founder of the latest bubble tea shop at Jalan Hang Tuah in the heart of the historic city.

Barely a few months into operations in 2020, she was forced to shut her shop during the MCO enforced because of Covid-19.

Although Hang Boba Cafe’s revenue has been hit by the restrictions on dine-in, it has not stopped Noorfazlinda from carrying out charity work.

In July, she launched her food bank initiative to feed the needy.

“My business was badly hit but I managed to stay afloat thanks to loyal customers who continued to place online orders,” she said.

Noorfazlinda sets aside an amount from her income to buy groceries such as rice, egg, milk powder and other essential items for the less fortunate.

The food is distributed, to anyone in need, every Friday from 2pm to 8pm at her eatery.

She said it would not take long for the 30 food aid packs to be snapped up.

Latecomers, she said, did not go home empty-handed as she provided cooked food for them instead.

“There were about 300 people who queued up at my cafe when I started my charity project and I ensured that everyone went home with some food,” she said.

Noorfazlinda also feeds vagrants along Jalan Hang Tuah daily.

“The task of feeding street people is delegated to my staff but those who are hungry can also come to my outlet to get food packs,” she added.

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