BY SHARYL PRIYANKA AND SAMANTHA CHANG

Many of our lives were upended when the Movement Control Order (MCO) took place on Mar 18, but the situation has hit some groups especially hard, such as the elderly, frontliners, refugees, and people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Many are struggling to stay afloat and get the resources they need. Fortunately, countless kind people in Malaysia have stepped up to help during these trying times.

Here are just some of the most inspiring kindness initiative by people in Malaysia during the MCO that will warm your heart:

Helping our Frontliners

1. Festival Duduk Rumah

On Mar 22, a group of talented musicians, comedians and writers jumped into action to organise Festival Duduk Rumah, a virtual festival to raise funds for #Meals4Medics and Mercy Malaysia. It raised over RM11,000, which will be channeled to buy food and medical equipment such as masks and respiratory aids for our frontliners. 

The concert was a laid-back, intimate one as the organisers simply wanted to highlight human connection in this period of isolation. Chatting and laughing through their fuzzy webcams, it felt like a heartwarming throwback to jamming sessions with our school friends.

2. Fashion Valet 

Moved by the medical frontliners working tirelessly amid the pandemic, Fashion Valet founder Vivy Yusof and her husband Fadza Anuar started to donate equipment such as portable air conditioners and laptops to hospitals from their own pocket. 

After receiving an outpour of supportive messages and plenty of requests from hospitals, they initiated the FV for Covid19 Support Fund to provide funds for hospitals facing shortages in terms of supplies and manpower. As of now, they have raised nearly a million ringgit, proving that Malaysians are a generous, thoughtful bunch!

3. Biji-biji Initiative

This sustainability-driven organisation has partnered up with volunteers, makers and the 3D Printer Malaysia Community to respond to the shortage of protective gears by crafting protective face shields for frontliners. Currently, they are crowdsourcing for materials such as 3D printers, plastic mould makers and A4 plastic sheets from the public. Many people have commented on their posts, offering to loan their materials. To learn how you can contribute, click here.

4. 100% Project

Folks at the 100% Project have been putting their 110% effort into fundraising for our frontliners. They are aiming to raise RM500,000, which will be channeled to the government’s GLC Disaster Relief Network (GDRN) to support public and institutional hospitals. To chip in, visit their fundraising page here.

Creating Websites and Tools

5. Kita Jaga Kita 

Distressed by the negative headlines, Malaysian author Hanna Alkaf decided that she wanted to channel the negative energy into something positive. She banded together with a few people to launch Kita Jaga Kita, a website spotlighting Covid-19 efforts by civil society individuals and organisations.

The website is a self-described “one-stop shop” for all the organisations which visitors can offer help to or request help from. It has received 15,000 views in six days since it was launched on Mar 18.

6. Project Liber8

Migrant rights advocacy group Project Liber8 worked with Axiata Analytics Centre (AAC) to launch a chat bot over a weekend to counter disinformation about Covid-19. In a Facebook post, Project Liber8 shared their concerns that migrant communities wouldn’t have access to crucial scientific information about the virus due to language barriers.The chat bot (check it out here!) provides verified information about the Covid-19 crisis in five different languages – English, Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, Nepali and Burmese.

7. Next Door Helper

Malaysian-born social innovator Shahed Amanullah worked with his son to create a website that lets homebound people send requests for volunteers to help them with errands and tasks, such as grocery runs. The concept is simple, but powerful: users can either register as someone who needs help or as a volunteer, and they may send requests for help or accept them. The website can identify your location and can be used worldwide.

Supplying Food and Groceries

8. PichaEats

Medical officers at a public hospital in Kuala Lumpur receiving a food donation by PichaEats. Photo: Kelvin Cheah Kheng Tatt

Social enterprise PichaEats is providing free meals to those in need, such as hospitals, police stations, two refugee communities, an old folks’ home, and university students who are in quarantine. It has received a flood of support from the public, gathering enough donations for 3,200 meals through its pay-it-forward Zaza Movement.

9. Masala Wheels

Masala Wheels is a food-truck-slash-social-enterprise that makes meals for the urban poor, students, older adults and others who are struggling to access food in these troubling times. Prompted by social media followers, they started their #foodwithoutborders initiative, which allows you to pay-it-forward and subsidise a meal for someone. They update their efforts every day and allow you to check who are the potential recipients of your donation.

10. Supplies for refugees

In a Facebook post, Refuge for the Refugees brought attention to how the MCO has jeopardised refugees’  access to funds, sanitization, nutrition, and safety, among other basic needs. They have partnered with Tenaganita, Dapur Jalanan KL and Liga Rakyat Demokratik to kickstart a fundraiser and raise RM30,000 for 500 refugee families, supplying each with a grocery pack to last two weeks. They have also worked with translators to disseminate important information about the situation to refugees. As of now, they are at the halfway point of their target funding!

11. Al-Hasan Volunteer Network and Beyond Borders Malaysia

Refugees are also working hard to help the fight against Covid-19. A group of refugees from Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are teaming up to cook for medical frontliners at the Ampang hospital. They will be delivering food to them every day for 10 days, from Mar 23 to 31. 

According to a report by The Star, the refugees are using money from their own pockets to fund this initiative. They expressed gratitude to this country and towards medical workers who are risking their lives to heal others.

These are just a few of the countless uplifting initiatives that people in Malaysia are doing in response to the outbreak. Despite the ongoing crisis, these kind acts prove that kindness, solidarity, and humanity can still triumph at the end of the day. 

Join us in our movement towards empathy and kindness, and email your stories and personal encounters of kindness to the #StandTogether team at alltherage@thestar.com.my.