Malaysians are caring folks, especially in time of crisis.
The #BenderaPutih campaign, a community initiative to help those in need of food and assistance due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, encourages them to reach out for help without fear or shame by raising a white flag in front of their home.
The campaign offers many who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic a ray of hope. Many charitable organizations are facing challenges too to reach out to those in desperate need of help.
As long as one is willing to reveal that he needs help, many are willing to extend a helping hand.
The Muhibbah Food Bank Malaysia has reached out to a single father with a six-year-old daughter after the latter sought help on Facebook.
The 43-year-old father who is suffering from hepatitis has run out of money to pay rent for six months. He has been unemployed for more than a year.
Muhibbah Food Bank Malaysia came forward to help the single father by paying three months of rent and donating food.
Luo Yu Mei, the person in charge at Muhibbah, said many people were facing a tough time. Even those managing food bank are finding it difficult to manage.
"Many business entities are willing to donate food. We are racing against time to pick up the food and deliver it. At night, the volunteers are required to file their reports," she said.
Luo said many business entities which have never worked with the organization were willing to offer food.
Items such as eggs, bread, oat which have been wrongly labeled or packed are donated to the organization.
"We discover that we may not need to raise money to help others," she said.
On the #BenderaPutih initiative, Luo said she was looking for more donations and finding ways to sort out the logistics.
"I hope that those in need of food will come forward while those who do not really need food will take down their white flags so that others will be given the food," she said.
Luo said the Muhibbah Food Bank and En Xin Charitable Organization are carrying out the following activities on a daily basis:
1. Deliver 200 sets of vegetarian meals and dried foods in Mantin and Seremban
2. Purchase the food items needed and deliver to the respective kitchen
3. Prepare milk powder and pampers for those who are sick
4. Review applications for food submitted through WhatsApp, forms, e-mails and others
5. Inform applicants to come forward to pick up the food prepared for them without personal contact
6. Reply e-mails sent by sponsors
7. Prepare reports for sponsors
8. Meet volunteers from different areas on requests made by sponsors
9. Prepare snacks for delivery to various areas
10. Look for more sponsors and arrange for transport.
Buddhist group Fo Guang Shan Malaysia organized an online training on mental health for volunteers so that they would be able to help others during emergencies.
A total of 12 venerables and 36 volunteers took part in the training held on March 6.
Venerable Jue Cheng said if volunteers were able to acquire the skills and knowledge during the training, they would be able to help more needy.
The mental health training session was held in light of rising number of suicide cases and those suffering from depression.
"Many are unable to cope with the stress and can't find a solution. Hence, they face mental health issues," she said.
Through the training, Ven Jue Cheng said she hoped the volunteers would be able to reach out to those suffering from depression and refer them to qualified psychiatrists or counselors.
Fo Guang Shan Malaysia also delivers 100 packs of rice on a daily basis.
For many months, volunteers from Fo Guang Shan Malaysia have been delivering food to the poor and needy throughout the country, including university students stranded in their hostels.
Fo Guang Shan Malaysia also worked with Econsave and University of Tunku Abdul Rahman to set up food banks in several areas.
Those who need food can contact 012-988 9795 / 03-3191 1533 / 03-7877 6533.
A total of six Sikhs have set up Malaysia FoodBank Organization to offer help regardless of their religious backgrounds.
On the day of the interview, Mandeep Singh, one of the founders, was raising fund for a three -year-old foreign child in need of funds for a heart surgery.
The Sikhs stress for brotherhood and the organization is set up to serve with love, he said.
"We would not leave those who seek help leave us empty handed," he said.
The Malaysia FoodBank Organization has been donating and distributing materials to the needy since March last year, when lockdown was first implemented.
The Malaysia FoodBank Organization, which has branches throughout the country, have delivered more than 18,0000 packs of goodies.
The group received ten times more applications than normal on daily basis during Movement Control Order 3.0.
It delivered about 400 sets of food daily in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
"We have seen families who received the food in tears, saying they have been relying on water to live for the past three days," he said.
Mandeep Singh said the group also discovered that many are affected, not only those in the B40 group. Some in the middle-income group also needed help as they were out of job without savings, he said.
Mandeep Singh also shared that in the neighborhood where he lives, a man had committed suicide.
"He has a wife and a child and looks normal. He does not look like someone suffering from depression," he said.
"During the process of delivering goods, we come across many who are driving luxury cars and live in posh homes. I always advise volunteers not to judge people from their appearance," he said.