A resolution for 2016 - supporting outstanding Malaysians

Dr Madhusudhan, the "Teddy Bear" doctor tending to his patients on the street.

IT'S that time of the year again. That time when many of us will sit down and make a list, a list we might check once – perhaps twice – and forget two or three weeks into January.

By this, I'm speaking of our new year's resolutions. We make them, try to keep them – but almost always forget them. And for most part, it's understandable. We're all creatures of habit, and if our resolutions challenge us to break our habits – it's really tough going.

That said, I'd like to suggest a new resolution – to support those in our community who are taking the initiative to help those in need, those giving up time, energy and money to help make life more liveable for others. I think we can all resolve to do our bit to make their work easier in 2016.

They're certainly in our midst, one example being Star Golden Hearts award winner Dr S. Madhusudhan, who has been providing free medical check-ups for the homeless, the urban poor and the needy for over a year.

Dr Madhusudhan – who is also known as the "Teddy Bear Doctor" by street children who receive cuddly soft toys from him during his visits – set out on this noble initiative out of a belief that those who are homeless deserve proper medical treatment.

His efforts began when he teamed up with Kechara Soup Kitchen, which provides free food and medical care. However, Dr Madhusudhan felt that the homeless needed another day of dedicated service, and he kicked off the Teddy Mobile Clinic in September 2015, which now runs every Wednesday.

When it began, Dr Madhusudhan was the only doctor available, but was soon joined by his brother, Dr S. Krishna and his pharmacist sister S. Sudheshna.

As it stands, the Teddy Mobile Clinic has about 30 volunteers, six doctors and several pharmacists treating approximately 30 to 40 patients every Wednesday at three locations – Jalan Hang Lekiu, Masjid Negara and in front of Bangkok Bank at Jalan Tun H.S. Lee

And Dr Madhusudhan is not the only one worth supporting in 2016. Aside from him, we could also consider supporting the efforts of seven friends – Ahamad Emran, Fadly Daud, Hafiz Kamal, Hayati Ismail, Sarah Lee, Syarifah Athirah Al Tirmidhi and Syed Azmi Alhabshi.

Syed (in green T-shirt) at a FreeMarket event in Selangor.

This group of seven, spearheaded by the now-famous Syed Azmi have successfully pulled off over 30 community events and 60 FreeMarket events in the past two years aimed at helping the marginalised and needy in our communities, with the FreeMarket being a key example of these efforts.

At these FreeMarkets, the public can give and take any item that is available – and it is all free. So how does it work at helping our most vulnerable? It creates a spirit of giving and sharing among regular Malaysians, as Syed Azmi explained to The Star's Sheila Sri Priya.

"The only requirement is the person interested must ask politely and say 'thank you' upon receiving an item," said Syed Azmi, who cautioned donors to not use the FreeMarket as a dumping ground for unwanted items.

"Things that are not taken by others must be taken back by the contributor," he added, saying that when people will come on board to help once they understand a cause and know that it is genuine.

Indeed, one does not have to contribute goods to help out at the FreeMarket.

"A boy just wanted to play chess and a volunteer played chess with him. You can also share your time at FreeMarket," said Syed Azmi.

So, how does one help out? A quick search on Facebook for "#FreeMarkets" yielded a treasure trove of resources, from dates and locations of the next FreeMarkets for January 2016, to step-by-step guides for setting up your own FreeMarket in your area.

So what are we waiting for? Let's start helping those who are giving up their time, resources and effort to make our community a better place for all.

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