Times are tough, but a little bit love and kindness can make the biggest difference in the world.
When we welcomed 2020 on 1st January, hopes were high and there was a definite air of optimism with the year of “Wawasan 2020” at our doorstep.
Eleven months later, things could not be further from the sparkling night of New Year.
Businesses shuttered, anxiety rose and unemployment spiked as thousands of Malaysians struggled to put food on the table with the pandemic and lockdowns wreaking havoc.
In these dark times, it’s the actions of selfless Malaysians that gave many a light of hope- just by showing much-needed kindness in the face of adversity.
No pandemic will stop them
Meet Shalini Yeap May Hwa and Anthon Jermayne (AJ) – a young couple in Petaling Jaya who’ve been hard at work helping out those in need, even before the pandemic hit.
Prior to the pandemic, the couple were regularly helping out young girls with an annual Back-To-School project at Rumah Kebajikan Karunai Illam to shop for school supplies. Instead of simply handing them the items, Shalini and AJ give each child a budget instead!
Each child is given a budget (and pencil and paper to keep a tab of spending) that she must work within to buy what is needed. It is our aim to instill in them some form of financial planning.Shalini to TRP.
But as Covid-19 hit the country hard in March, the dynamic duo had to shift gears – fast. So Shalini and AJ got more creative in their philanthropic endeavors.
You see, AJ -or The Mustachio AJ, as he’s known online – is a full-time streamer on the Facebook Gaming platform and a part time shout caster for Call of Duty Mobile tournaments, while Shalini is a freelance writer who also does PR & Legal Affairs for AJ’s gaming page. This means that the two are quite familiar with the online world.
AJ rallied the gaming community through his live game streams, embarking on an online fundraiser this November to prepare 500 hygiene packs for the homeless – all in a bid to help those living on the streets stay safe and sanitised during this pandemic. He also had a charity stream to provide aid families in the Philippines who suffered at the hands of Super Typhoon Rolly in late October.
They’re not the only ones who’ve been busy though.
A group of like-minded Malaysians dedicated to spreading kindness through their actions, called the KL Sikhs Community Services has been feeding the homeless on streets since 2015.
Basically, we are a very diverse group of people who just decided to get together and give back to society.KL Sikhs Community Services to TRP.
Usually, the group would gather at Wadda Gurdwara Kampung Pandan every Tuesday to cook and pack meals before distributing meals to the homeless around KL.
However, the pandemic forced a change in strategy and they began distributing dry rations and cooking essentials to daily wage earners who lost their income during the MCO.
This was done on a daily basis, serving 10 to 20 families each time but we had to stop because of the strict SOP that had to be followed. Then, as the situation got better, we started our weekly routine again. Sad to say, we again had to stop with the Covid-19 situation getting worse.KL Sikhs Community Services to TRP.
Sharing, is truly caring
Though he’s done far to help the needy than the average person, AJ insists that he hasn’t given or done enough to evolve as a person.
Growing up I had nothing and I was always thankful for any kindness that came my way. Whenever I received, I always told myself that when my time comes, I will give as well. I am just giving back all the kindness I have received in the past, with interest.AJ to TRP.
“I will always remember this uncle I met on one of the food distribution rounds with Kechara Soup Kitchen,” shared Shalini. That night, there were some clothes to be distributed along with food when they met a visually impaired elderly man at his usual sleeping spot on the footpath.
They offered him a box of clothing, but to Shalini’s surprise, the old man only took one item and returned the rest. He said didn’t need more than that and there might be others who needed them more.
As someone who spent the formative years of my career in the corporate world and living in a city like KL where I was surrounded by people who always wanted more, this was refreshing and humbling. Indeed, sometimes it is the ones who have very little, who have the biggest hearts.Shalini to TRP.
It’s a sentiment echoed by the KL Sikhs Community Services as well, when Satnam Sagoo, Jespuvan Singh, along with a few friends decided to do something about the many hungry and homeless folk they see in the city.
Pooling together all their resources to begin distributing meals to the hungry, the incredible act of charity grew over the years as the word spread with more friends and acquaintances joining in, regardless of race or religion.
All the members have only one aim and that is help where we can, when we can and who we can.KL Sikhs Community Services to TRP.
Though doing service work hasn’t been the easiest experience in the world, KL Sikhs Community Services say that all they want to do is to just bring some joy and food to the less fortunate.
People are most worried when they have to part with their money in the name of charity. It is difficult for people to accept the fact that there are good people and there are bad people. At the end of the day, it all boils down to trust. We have only felt joy, and many times, appreciation too from these folk. For us, that is more than enough.KL Sikhs Community Services to TRP.
This little guiding light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
As Deepavali approaches, these kind-hearted Malaysians show no signs of slowing down.
The various MCOs and spike in infections derailed Shalini and AJ’s plans to provide free breakfast to children from B40 families in kindergarten, and a monthly career chat exploring non-conventional career paths for the young girls at Rumah Kebajikan Karunai Illam.
But Shalini and AJ are determined to carry on and revive their projects, believing in the power of consistency in making a lasting impact – especially when it comes to children. As AJ puts it, “Though we may not always be around, we show up just enough so the kids know that Shalini akka and AJ anneh will always be there if they need anything.”
Meanwhile the KL Sikhs Community Services group have made arrangements to deliver more groceries to the needy, as well as organising a festive Deepavali dinner at the Pertubuhan Kebajikan Anak Yatim Mary KL for 55 excited children.
Contemplating on the festival of lights, especially with the seeming darkness around, Shalini and AJ have these wise words to share; “We must remember that it doesn’t matter who or what caused the light to disappear, but only we can bring it back.”
After all, Deepavali is the celebration that symbolises the victory of light over darkness, and good over evil. Though this year’s celebrations may be muted, the guiding lights of love and kindness makes all the difference in dispelling the darkness that surrounds us.
So Malaysians, take your cue from people like Shalini and AJ. Share your light this Deepavali, as even companies like Gamuda Land are leaning in to spread the message. After all, the world could do with some love and kindness in these trying times.
She puts the pun in Punjabi. With a background in healthcare, lifestyle writing and memes, this lady's articles walk a fine line between pun-dai and pun-ishing.