You may have heard the phrase ‘Always Count Your Blessings’ one too many a times – to be taught, and told to be grateful for the good things in life, and to be thankful to the One above for all that has been provided.
At times, when one is dealt with just too much, and left with so little or nothing at all, how do we then tell them to count their blessings.
The Need to Reach Out
When the country went into a total lockdown last year, many individuals like you and me, were just beginning to feel the negative effects of this pandemic. One year down the road, the struggle continues. Today, as Malaysia picks herself up while navigating a third MCO (Movement Control Order), we see families from the B40 communities, migrants, refugees, PWDs (persons with disabilities) and ordinary humans grappling to make ends meet, and put food on the table.
People in the communities mentioned above are less thought of, and their needs often not looked into. Although government, and non-governmental organisations have been addressing their plight, there is only so much that can be done.
The Need to Feed
One man has been noticing the need to step up efforts to help feed the urban poor. Founder and Managing Director of BAC Education Group, Raja Singham, knew well enough, and understood the impact FMCO had on families and communities living under extreme poverty, as many of them were daily wage earners, who have lost their livelihood.
Acknowledging this urgent need, FreeMakan, another humanitarian initiative was promptly set up by BAC Education, under its fundraising platform GiveBack.my. Set up in April 2020, GiveBack has been actively raising funds. To date, with 46 campaigns under its belt, almost RM600,000 have been raised, helping 20,000 people across the nation.
The Need to Amplify
Poverty and hunger are intimately connected. What first started as an initiative to only feed 2,000 families has now turned into something much bigger. With unemployment on the rise, and the effects of this pandemic painfully intruding into the lives of many, especially the poor and marginalised, the need to feed has become much greater, and generous donors and volunteers are coming forward to help in ways they can to reduce the number of families going to bed on an empty stomach.
FreeMakan has now amplified its campaign. A drive with a strong purpose, the ‘Stop Hunger! Help Feed 10,000 B40 Families’ only begun early this month, but the generosity and empathy of Malaysians saw RM200,000 raised to date. This amount was then used to purchase dry rations from Mydin Malaysia, a local hypermarket.
Purchased goods were stored at The Mansion, BAC Education’s accommodation facility in Brickfields. BAC also assembled a team of staff volunteers to sort and pack items for each family, who also then handled the safe delivery of these packages.
Each family received groceries worth RM50, including rice, cooking oil, flour, sugar, salt, beehoon, instant noodles, sardines, cream crackers, potatoes, onions, and garlic, among others.
Each bag is said to keep families hunger-free, supporting them for at least two weeks. Among the recipients were women-headed households, B40 families at PPRs, refugees, migrant workers and PWDs.
Accompanying the bags of groceries distributed to households, were ‘goodie bags’ for children, sponsored by a kind individual. Innocent young minds may not be able to understand the consequences this pandemic have on them, their families or even their future. But, to see their faces light up with smiles when receiving a bag filled with Tiger biscuits, Toblerone, Cadbury chocolates and Twisties, has been priceless.
Today, a total of 4,000 families at 200 locations around the Klang Valley have been given food aid under this campaign.
The Need to Collaborate
There is a saying by American author Hellen Keller which goes, ‘Alone We Can Do So Little, Together We Can Do So Much.’
To help realise distribution efforts and to monitor engagement with the right communities, on board this campaign is a group of independent entities, with the same social mission – to bridge the gap of inequalities, and to uplift the lives of affected segments in the community.
Free Makan has been collaborating with Women of Will (WOW), MY Young Mind Association (MYMA), PAMAR (Persatuan Akademik Motivasi Akhlak Rawang), Rohingya Women Development Network (RWDN), Rohingya Society Malaysia, Yayasan Seni Karya Prihatin Malaysia, STROM (Sri Lanka Tamil Refugees Organisation in Malaysia), and SRMCS (Sri Lanka Refugees Migration Community Service), among others. These organisations help identify communities that are most in need, and the POP (poorest of the poor).
Over the past couple of weeks, kind-hearted individuals and organisation have stepped forward to donate goods, and pledge donations. Among them are:
Free Food Society (FFS) – RM50,000
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Wilayah – RM10,000
Food Aid Foundation – 5 tonnes of biscuits/confectionaries (supplied by Mondelez Malaysia Sales Sdn Bhd)
Nestle – 1000 packs of Milo (300grams)
Industri Makanan Jati Sdn Bhd – 1600 packets of Aroma flour
The Need to Empathise
When news about the virus first broke out last year, nobody thought that something unseen to the human eye would spread like wildfire, engulfing the lives of millions worldwide. This was history in the making. A game-changer in all sense – from transforming economies, to changing lifestyles and mindsets.
With Food Banks, Free Pantries, and efforts such as this one by FreeMakan mobilised throughout the nation, it is apparent that society has been adversely affected by this pandemic. Therefore, the need to look out for our fellow neighbours, regardless creed or colour, is even greater at this time.
We may have enough on our tables, whilst others may not. But it is through initiatives like this that we can do our bit to help the disadvantaged.
The Need to Act
With continuous lockdowns and the uncertainty of times, the end is nowhere in sight. However, we must continue to hope and pray for a better tomorrow.
As Free Food Society (FFS) and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Wilayah join hands to help give hope to the nation’s marginalised, a ‘matching grant’ concept will see BAC Education top-up one grocery pack, for every pack sponsored by FFS and MMA.
Efforts in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger can be never-ending, and FreeMakan is not anywhere close to the finish line. This is only the start to accomplishing what it has set out to do.
The Need is NOW!!
In a world where enough food is produced to feed everyone, the need to ensure no one goes to sleep on an empty stomach, falls back on you and me.
As people around us struggle, it is about time, we, at least re-evaluate our priorities and purpose in life. And if there is a calling to do your part in ending hunger and poverty, heed that call.
The need is now, and it starts with YOU and ME!!
If you want to be part of FreeMakan, and would like to see the work we do, follow us on:
(All pictures were courtesy of Moo Tik Pin & our community partners)