The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health crisis, it is also a human crisis that affects the social and economic aspect of our lives. Amidst the bleak landscape, resilient and resolute Malaysians are coping with a mixture of community outreach and grassroots innovation. Many have emerged to tell stories of courage, compassion, and hope. Indeed, now more than ever, we need to keep an eye out for the most vulnerable among us.
Carina Choy | Chairman’s Office, Paramount Corporation Berhad
I had moved into my current residence at Casa Tropicana about 1 ½ years and have been in conversation with a small group of residents about adopting a needy community, to help contribute toward their needs, perhaps through a sustainable source of income.
When my friend Shirny lost her job, I met with her to help with things like getting her resume updated and leads for a new job. But with the prolonged pandemic, it became increasingly evident that jobs were hard to come by. With two kids in college and the eldest having recently lost his job, she desperately needed funds to sustain the family. As we were brainstorming on what to do next, the family managed to connect with a noodle factory willing to supply them good quality fresh noodles to sell.
The next challenge was identifying the target market, buying patterns, determining prices, and sorting out the logistics of delivery. Casa Tropicana has a mothers group buy and hence, I suggested that we start with promoting in the condo’s Mummy Grocery chat group.
Lo and behold, the aunties whom we reached out to showed great interest! Now, she gets regular orders from Casa Tropicana and has even expanded her market to two other condominiums in Petaling Jaya. Shirny’s husband, who does the deliveries has even earned the nickname of Uncle Noodle as the children here eagerly await his visits.
In the midst of this, another beautiful thing happened. As people are now cooking more, our condo herb garden has been revived and the residents went back to basics and growing for all to enjoy!
This is the spirit of #KitaJagaKita. I am just overwhelmed by the support of my neighbours. They were willing to embrace those who are down and out to help them get back on their feet. Through this process, we managed to create a caring community driven by a desire to help others. This reminded me of an article I read recently. It said, “Identify, understand and manage your environmental, social and governance risks and co-exist responsibly”. From this experience, I can see the dynamics of learning how to co-exist responsibly with those around me and with nature. Basically, when my neighbour is good, then I am good!
Despite the stress caused by this pandemic, I would like to give thanks to God. This is because I realise that our availability gives Him an opportunity to work a miracle through us.
Speaking about miracles, I am grateful that I was able to work with Dato’ CQ Teo because through him, I was able to witness a lot of miracles as he gave of himself to his family, the community, the nation, and the world. His words were, when we extend our help to those who are in need, remember that their ability to fend for themselves is their dignity. Hence, above all, Dato’ believed that providing an individual with the right sets of skills and education will take care of their long term needs.
The herb garden cultivated by residents has been revived together with the community spirit
Law Er Sern | Sales & Marketing, Paramount Property Utara (Penang)
Living in Bandar Laguna Merbok, my family and I are generally pretty close to all our neighbours. However, the couple living next door, Mr and Mrs Liew, stand out. They are in their 50s and we have known them for over 10 years.
They are the kindest neighbours that I have ever met. They help us a lot including watering our plants, sharing delicious homecooked food and helping us to collect our parcels when we are not around.
Of course, this is a two-way relationship as we also reciprocate in kind. Recently, my father also helped a Malay neighhour who lives behind us with some minor renovations and was subsequently gifted with a fruit basket. I believe this is customary in our Malaysian culture. Every time we receive, we also return the favour.
Helping each other is essential. If you think about it, in times of emergency the people you can rely on the most are your immediate neighbours. If we are not close to them, how can we request for help? That said, we also have our share of petty and selfish neighbours whom we generally try and stay away from. But generally, most people are ok.
Mr and Mrs Liew (left) standing with Er Sern’s parents (right) are one of the kindest person he has ever met
If we have opportunities to foster good relationships with our neighbours, we must appreciate it. I, for one, am thankful for good neighbours.
Agnes Tan | Property Management, Paramount Property Central
I have been a member of the Soroptimist International Club of Bangsar (SI Bangsar) since 1995 and have been involved in many community initiatives which have been organised by the Club throughout the years.
At the peak of this pandemic, when more people got laid off and the white flags started being flown, SI Bangsar decided to gather our resources to start a food bank. One of our members knew the owner of a petrol station at Kelana Jaya and he agreed to allow us to set up a food bank there. With a venue secured, we set aside a budget to kick off this initiative in June 2021.
To display the food, we bought two shelves and branded it ‘Bank Runcit SI Bangsar’ and placed it just outside the petrol station. As word got round, we started receiving contributions in the form of cash and kind from family, friends and even passersby who happen to spot the bank account number displayed at our shelves.
Offering hope to the hungry through a humble ‘bank runcit’ at a petrol station in Bangsar
Giving through collective effort
We replenish the items twice daily and recipients are allowed to take only three items per family. Rice, sardines, baked beans, meehoon, instant noodles and cooking oil would go very fast. Sustainability is always a problem when we are giving out things for free. So, we are planning another round of rallying to get donations. With this, we hope to be able to sustain until end of the year.
Another challenge is making sure it goes to the people who really need it. However, we don’t ask questions. Sometimes we get to observe the people who take the food and listen to their stories. Throughout this journey, we have encountered many people and some of their stories really bring tears to our eyes.
I feel that there is a lot of people out there who needs help. However, many are embarrassed to ask for help. Hence, we are very glad to be able to help those who have visited our little food bank.
All in all, we have received cash donations amounting to RM9k and received RM15k worth of goods in kind since we started in June. The donations from the many kind donors have made a huge difference. Hopefully more organisations can also step up to continue these efforts to feed the poor and needy amongst us.
“An elderly lady who asked if she could take an extra can of baked beans (everyone is allowed to take only 3 items per family) because her husband and herself only eat baked beans with bread every day as they are unable to cook!”
“A single mum from Telok Intan with four kids aged 3 to 11, and parents to support, came up to thank our organisation for the food support, all other food banks have closed. She had lost her job for 3 months (she has diploma qualification and was working in accounts and admin) and was at wit’s end. I told her to select the three items she would like – she took rice, sardine and oil. Then I offered her extra, milk. However, she refused because she didn’t want her youngest to be dependent on the milk which she could not afford to buy once it is finished.”
Nicole Cho | Sales & Marketing, Paramount Property Utara (Kedah)
In 2018, at about the same time Paramount relocated our office to Bukit Banyan, my husband and I moved into our new home here as well. I grew up in an environment where my family regularly interacted with our neighbours. Hence, from the beginning, we would make it a habit to greet our neighbours as we went about our normal day-to-day activities.
But it was during the pandemic that we got to know them better. One of them is Uncle Ah Kow who is a retiree in his 70s. He and his wife stay on the opposite side of my house. He always helps keep our surroundings neat and clear by sweeping and clearing the dry leaves around the compound.
During the lockdown, I decided to ask him if he needed help to buy groceries. He said yes and gave me a list. That was the start of our regular grocery runs for him. Uncle Ah Kow is not the only one who takes time to be neighbourly. The Indian aunty next door would also occasionally gift us with fruits. When she is not around, we will help to water her plants.
It takes very little time to extend a helping hand to our neighbours. To me, this is a normal part of living in a community. Always give without expecting anything in return.