Caremongering: A Helping Hand for Our Fellow Malaysians

作者: Joseph Hamzah Anwar

I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed – grim, dull and lackadaisical – as always. I’m stuck in between my car and those silly SOPs. If it were a year before, I would have gone out of my house, revved through the highway and met my friends in one of those chic cafés in Kuala Lumpur. But that’s far from what I can imagine now as the cases pile up to their brim and mortuaries are used in total capacity. I sigh. Less than 150 days are left before we usher in 2022, yet the end of this pandemic is still uncertain.

Suddenly, I see a post mentioning that they’re looking for volunteers for the Seri Kembangan Caremongering Group. So, I join the group there and then. Within an hour, somebody adds me to the group chat, and the team leader sends me a direct message containing files that I need to read through before starting my volunteering process.

Once I’ve read everything and list down what’s needed, I head to the supermarket. The road is full of cars forming a bottleneck, waiting to pass through a police roadblock. I don’t really mind the roadblock these days because it’s located just a stone’s throw away from my home, and the policemen are getting lax nowadays. It takes about an hour to pass the roadblock before I finally reach the supermarket.

Over there, I buy all the necessities, like rice, sardines, baby milk powder and oil. I find the ones that are of quality but sold at a reasonable price. I have to spend wisely even though the committee will reimburse the money. Once I’ve gotten everything on my list, I head out to the cashier, pay and start distributing those I’ve just bought.

The first house I’m heading to is located at a low-cost flat, packed with some other flats and a ‘surau’. The trouble that I face here is that many cars are double-parked, making the way into the flat itself nerve-wracking. I try to find a safe spot to idle my car while waiting for the family to come. It’s a family of six: father, mother, three boys and a baby. I know all this through the list that I got after they’d filled up the form. Although, the only one who came down the flat is their parents.

I give all the food that they need to his hand and the ‘makcik’ comes near me, holds my hand and says, “Terima kasih nak. Kami dah buntu mana nak cari makanan untuk anak. Suami saya tak dapat kerja masa COVID ni. Terima kasih banyak-banyak.” (Thank you, my dear. We have come to the dead-end looking for food for the children. My husband can’t work during this COVID period. Thank you so much.) I’m out of words. I try to soothe her, saying it’s alright and if she needs any more support, just let me know. Both of them nod.

The next house is located near Olive Hill, a commercial area where I would usually go if there’s no MCO to eat oden and sushi. But right now, all the shops are closed and the restaurants only accept takeaways. I note that some of the beauty spas and massage parlours are closed for good. It’s heartbreaking to see these happening to my beloved country, but we have no choice.

I reach the house. I can image the house as a very simple terraced house with cemented floor and a strand of mango leaves hanging on the door. A lady has waited outside when I park my car and open my boot to bring out the food to the lady. I give the woman a bag and I help her to bring the rice packet into her house.

She only has two daughters, but her husband is nowhere to be seen. She mentions to me that she had lost her job from working at a convenience store. The whole family is contemplating selling off this terraced house and staying with their parent in a small flat in Balakong. I wish her good luck and say that I hope she’ll find a job soon. I will share with her if I know of any job vacancies. She thanks me and I reply, “Nandri (thank you) also aunty!”

The last house that I head to belongs to a family of six. Their home is located in a 3-storey shophouse. Like just now, I help the family bringing the food into their house. The only difference now is I’ve to climb the stairs. The mother, who has her baby wrapped on her chest, also brings up some food.

With my very limited Iban, I ask her, “Nama berita nuan?” (How are you?) and she replies with a broad smile, “Manah.” (I’m fine.) Thanks to my Sarawakian friends who taught me some useful Iban words when I was in university, now I’m able to put them to good use.

I’m trying to read her face. She seems tired and probably is thinking something else as her forehead creases. I continue to climb up the stairs and finally reach her house. I leave all the rice and milk powder behind and wave goodbye to her and her daughters, who are hanging on the grille.

Going back home today is so difficult for me. I feel happy. Happy that I was able to help my neighbours of different backgrounds. Yet, I’m disheartened that many people have to go through life like this during this pandemic. Reflecting on myself, I’m grateful that I’m still able to watch TV, use the air conditioner and chat with my friends amidst this pandemic and I count my blessings for that. Not many people have that same opportunity as me. And I genuinely hope that our country Malaysia will heal from these awful times.

Copyright @ 马来西亚华校董事联合会总会
Website Developed by PCball Online Sdn Bhd. Proudly with Wordpress.