Covid-19 Exclusives: Volunteering is the Heart at Work


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MEET 24-YEAR-OLD law student Chin How Zet. Since the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO), he has been assisting the needy and the underprivileged in his capacity as an executive committee member of the Fettes Park Village Community Management Council, or Majlis Pengurusan Komuniti Kampung.

How Zet handing out the aid packages to residents of Taman Batu Bukit, Tanjung Tokong.

Together with his team, How Zet works closely with the Methodist Crisis Relief and Development and Caremongering Penang to distribute daily essentials to residents around Fettes Park. Recalling his experience, How Zet admits that it was risky to venture out at the height of Covid-19, “but the lives of those who needed these essentials the most were at stake. If we did not see into their welfare, who else would?”

As a youth leader and for his team’s safety, How Zet makes sure to conduct proper planning before they set out for the day. “I remember watching press briefings of the latest Covid-19 updates by the Health Director-General and, together with my team members, would cross-check the data with Penang’s statistics to identify locally, the areas of infection. At the end of the day, I’m leading my team. I’m responsible for their well-being; I wouldn’t want anyone of us to be catching the virus and spreading it. The effects will be catastrophic, not to mention ironic.”


MPKK members preparing to distribute aid packages.

Apart from household essentials, the team also hands out medical kits such as face masks, PPEs and gloves to local hospitals. “Many of these medical kits, including over 175 sets of PPE, were donated by Chinese expatriates residing in Penang. It goes to show that people do come together in times of need to lend a helping hand.

“Once, an uncle reached out to me with nine boxes of face masks. He said this was the most he was able to help out with. While another friend, despite being financial strapped, managed to purchase a 50ml bottle of hand sanitiser to contribute. It’s truly heartwarming to see; even the littlest gesture of kindness can make a huge difference in our society,” he says with a smile.

Frontliners like the police and firefighters are also recipients of the aid distribution programme. F&B outlets like Mama Vege, a vegetarian restaurant, has offered to prepare close to 60 meal sets on alternate days of the week throughout the MCO period for Penang’s frontliners.

Connecting with Society

Pre-MCO, How Zet’s volunteering efforts would often take him beyond the Fettes Park neighbourhood, to areas like Weld Quay and Jelutong. “I choose to go to these residential areas because they generally fly under the public’s radar; what’s more, the residents are unsure of the channels for seeking external help as well. The public would rather funnel donations into neighbourhoods like Rifle Range and Taman Free School, which are already quite well-equipped with amenities compared to the ones I have visited.”

When asked about how he gets to know of those in need of his help, How Zet says, “I actively keep myself informed about the goings-on of these communities, sometimes with the help of family and friends too.” By maintaining an open communication line, How Zet is able to reach out to the more vulnerable groups; he has gone so far as getting to know these individuals’ specific needs, and if there are infants and senior citizens living in the same household who require additional provisions. “I’m only able to properly help out if I know what they really need. I’m a firm believer that no one must be left behind.”

"It’s truly heartwarming to see; even the littlest gesture of kindness can make a huge difference in our society.”

He also hosts basic first aid courses, as well as organising community gotong-royong activities and events in celebration of traditional festivals. How Zet credits his volunteerism to his upbringing and his faith. From a young age, he was nurtured to be compassionate, and would often lend his time at old folks’ homes and charitable organisations like the Salvation Army. “Volunteering can be a very fun and rewarding experience. It helps to positively mould a person’s character too; I’ve made numerous friends and gained skills I couldn’t have learned from school.”

Age is but A Number

“Initially, whenever I joined these social activities, I was often labelled as being too young or inexperienced. I had to work hard to reverse the impressions my physical appearance gave to others,” he says.

Looking at the current developments in Malaysia, How Zet finds that compassion and patriotism are two virtues that are sadly lacking among youths in the country. “It’s not entirely our fault though; in fact, I find that most do actually want to engage themselves in social work, but they aren’t sure how or where to begin. Approach your neighbourhood watch or join any societies or social projects that you can find in your community,” he urges. “Start small, that’s a good first step.”

Enzo Sim is a Mass Communications graduate who has an unwavering passion towards International Relations, history and regional affairs of Southeast Asia. His passion has brought him to different Southeast Asian capitals to explore the diverse cultural intricacies within the region.

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