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8 Malaysians Using Their Simple Superpowers To Help The Poor

When the word ‘superpower’ comes to mind, the images of superheroes in skin-tight clothing flying around the city fighting villains would follow suit. However, in the real world, those who possess ‘superpowers’ are the brave and resilient who lend a helping hand to those in need when the going gets tough.

Malaysians are known for their kind hospitality and generosity. Our friendly and compassionate spirit will always remain despite the tough times ahead.

Below are 8 Malaysians who utilised their inner ‘superpowers’ to raise funds for those in need.

#1: Nish the Fish: strumming guitar for a good cause

What’s better than picking up a new skill or hobby during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period? Malaysian-born guitarist and yoga instructor Nishanth Selvalingam (also known as  Nish the Fish) and Natasha Anne John took to his Instagram page to promote a guitar workshop during the nationwide lockdown [1].

With their guitar masterclass held on 20th  August this year, they managed to raise RM 4,177, for  The Lost Food Project, a Malaysian non-profit organisation providing aid for those who are struggling amid the pandemic [2]. A donation of RM 20 was set per person to attend the workshop. However,  they welcomed general donations without any minimum amounts as well.

In their workshop, participants harnessed advice and skills, ranging from basic music theory, writing songs and how to make a living in the music industry from Nish who fronts the New Age rock band Matsya and juggles an Associate of Arts in Music in Los Angeles [1].

#2: Sharon Chin: Port Dickson artist showing solidarity to friends in East Malaysia

Source: The Star

In November 2020, when Sabah’s Covid-19 cases were all-time-high, local artist Sharon Chin stepped in with her artistic abilities to show solidarity with Sabahans [3].

Through her Facebook profile, Sharon sold handmade bandanas with a Mahang tree print on them. The intricate design of the Mahang tree is printed on either light blue, medium blue, white or red fabrics – colours that encompass the state of Sabah’s flag. The local artist chose the Mahang tree due to its ability to regrow on disturbed or damaged lands.

“Like the Mahang tree, each of us plays an important part in healing the damage brought by Covid-19 and its after effects. We are being called to do this in all the ways we know how,” – Sharon Chin [3]

Her small-scale DIY initiative, ‘Ma(Hang) in There, Sabah!’ managed to raise RM 3,005 for Borneo Komrad’s Covid-19 relief fund. Borneo Komrad is a Sabah-based grassroots organisation run by university students that operate Sekolah Alternatif, which offers education to stateless and undocumented children in Tawau, Semporna, and Tuaran. At the moment, Borneo Komrad distributes essential supplies such as food packets, face masks and hand sanitisers to the needy community in rural areas and the urban poor.

#3: SEAGM: The online gaming community aiding the handicapped and mentally disabled

Source: SEAGM | Facebook

Who thought streaming your favourite online gamers could help the handicapped and mentally disabled community?

For online game store SEAGM, they managed to raise RM10,543 through an online charity show match, also known as #SEAGMGivesBack [4]. The event was hosted by a popular esports figure, Flava. Professional players ArrHedge, WildRabbit, Manparang, Bravo, WryDep, Putra and Draxx participated in the event on the 31st of August.

“This event provides a platform for gamers to empower themselves and impact a change to help out the needy through the power of games and esports in a whole”- Tommy Chieng, CEO of SEAGM [5]

SEAGM CEO Tommy Chieng is a strong advocate for social responsibilities and is enthusiastic to give back to the community in accordance with the National Day celebration. He was over the moon when the streaming event garnered over 2000 likes and 543 peaks in concurrent viewers [4].

The RM 10,543 raised was donated to the Handicapped and Mentally Disabled Children Association in Banting, Selangor. The home currently houses 78 patients who require special attention and care with a refuge centre for patients abandoned by family members [6].

#4: Mark Koh cycled for the causes he cared about

Source: Mark Koh’s SimplyGiving webpage

In July 2021, Mark Koh decided to raise funds for causes he is passionate about. However, he wanted to raise funds by doing what he loves most- cycling.

According to the SimplyGiving website, Mark cycled 1km for every RM20 donated, targeting a minimum of 1,000 km over 3 weeks. His initial target was RM20,000. When the campaign started on 7 July 2021 and ended a month later, Mark managed to raise RM 22,679 [7].

As a self-proclaimed animal lover himself, he donated 25 per cent of the funds to Second Chance Animal Shelter and another 25 per cent to MeeFah Shelter, which both are ‘no kill’ shelters. As for the remaining 50 per cent of the funds, Mark donated it to Health Equity Initiative, an organisation working with refugees and asylum seekers to promote and protect marginalised communities in Malaysia.

#5: Praviin Anandaraman: Law student hustling for the poor

Source: Harian Metro

Ever since his secondary school days, Praviin R. A. Anandaraman would save up his weekly pocket money to help the poor [8]

The now 19-year-old law student and his friends founded Tomorrow Special Plan (TSP) Foundation where they started a food bank to help ease the burdens of the less fortunate. However, Praviin is not just a law student. He also works part-time at his father’s air conditioning shop in Teluk Kemang and Port Dickson, where he decided to set up the food bank stations.

Praviin, who earns RM1,000 monthly sets aside RM400 each month from his earnings to restock the food bank [9]. Once word got around about his initiative, people started reaching out to him to offer foodstuff and cash. Since February 2021, Praviin and his team have helped over 200 families from different backgrounds and races.

“Many of them are single mothers, and some are families where the breadwinners have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic. There are also disabled individuals,” Praviin R. A. Anandaraman

Besides that, the kind-hearted youth also did odd jobs such as washing cars to further support his initiative. 

“I couldn’t support the poor on a wide scale, so I only did what I could to make sure that no one starves in Port Dickson” – Praviin Anandaraman [9]

#6: Tan Wei Sing: Youth raises funds by hosting e-game tournaments

When 20-year-old Penangite Tan Wei Siang witnessed the plight of families living in the low-cost flats in Taman Free School struggling to make ends meet, he knew he had to step in and help. Wei Siang and his coursemates started a youth-led initiative called ‘Care For All’.

Since online gaming has been a trend amongst youths today, he took advantage of the chance and started hosting E-sports tournaments. The collected fee was channelled to food baskets. The Care for All team purchased 800 food baskets and distributed them to old folk’s homes and B40 families around Penang Island.

When MCO was re-imposed in January 2021, Wei Siang and his team of volunteers targeted the Taman Free School residents for their food basket donations. He wanted to be more strategic in his efforts to alleviate hunger and meet the needs of people. To date, Care for All has helped 993 families in the Taman Free School area alone.

“Before donating the food baskets, we went to their houses to enquire about their conditions and asked what they needed. I couldn’t help but feel sad about their living conditions. A 65-year-old aunty who lived alone had to pay her electricity bills and sold all of her jewellery. Yet, it was still not enough.” – Tan Wei Siang

In the near future, Wei Siang plans to empower hawkers in Taman Free School to earn a sustainable living to live comfortably and support their families. Care for All also has plans to host even more E-sports tournaments to raise funds for B40 families in Penang.

#7: m/SIX: Walking 3,534 KM for single mothers

Source: New Straits Times

Media agency m/SIX realised the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in adverse impacts while working from home, they embarked on Heart & Sole, an initiative to get their employees on their feet and help single mothers with their economic struggles through hard times [10].

The participants of the Heart & Sole challenge got their colleagues, friends and family to pledge RM10 for every kilometre they walked. With the help of supporters and sponsors, m/SIX managed to raise up to RM35,340 and collectively walked 3,534 kilometres amongst the participants. The funds allowed 300 care packages to be delivered to single mothers through the Malaysian Relief Agency and Yayasan Chow Kit. 

“Our team’s mental and physical well-being is our key priority during these trying times. This initiative was a fun and meaningful way to also contribute back to a cause that m/SIX has been championing for the last three years.” – Sheila Shanmugam, m/SIX Malaysia managing director.

#8: Mr Lee: feeding Georgetown’s urban poor

Source: Mr. Lee Sung Aik personal collection

Kopitiam owner Lee Sung Aik realised how horrible COVID-19’s effects were on the poor when the elderly came begging for food at his coffee shop in Georgetown. Sympathising with the disadvantaged, Mr  Lee has been cooking 250 packets of food every day since March 2020 to feed Georgetown’s urban poor.

His daily route will start from the Komtar bus terminal to the Goddess of Mercy Temple in Jalan Kapitan Keling and ending in various tricycle stops in Georgetown. Mr Lee distributed packets of rice with side dishes of vegetables and meat with one disposable mask. A long line of people- the homeless, the elderly and migrant workers will line up at the back of his pick-up truck to receive the food. 

However, his efforts to help feed the poor has always been challenging; even from the start. Mr Lee does not have a steady flow of funds to buy ingredients for the food. Besides that, Mr  Lee is a one-man-show; he prepares the ingredients, cooks the food and drives around the city- all by himself.

“It’s tough for me to go on. I can’t afford to keep distributing food if I don’t have a steady cash flow. Sometimes when I run out of ingredients, I will ask my friends for donations. But, I feel bad as well. I’m scared that people will question and doubt my intentions”- Mr  Lee Sung Aik

As for future hopes, Mr Lee hopes the government will step in and provide aid to the homeless and the elderly.

“Hopefully in the future, we won’t see any beggars and homeless people lurking around the city anymore. Then, my heart will be at peace, knowing they are taken care of.”Mr  Lee Sung Aik

This article was written by Rachel Tan and edited by the Wiki Impact team. 

Explore our sources:

1. Learn guitar for a cause! 2021, from Link.
2. Learn guitar for a cause, with Nish the fish! from Link.
3. D. Kumar. (2020). Artist Sharon chin raising Covid-19 funds for Sabah through DIY bandana. The Star. from Link.
4. Daniel. (2021). SEAGM online charity show match RAISED RM 10,543. SEAGM News. from Link.
5. K, K. &. (2021). SEAGM announces SEAGMGIVESBACK charity online show Match 2021! SEAGM News. from Link.
6. The Sun Daily. (2021). Streaming for a good cause. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from Link.
7. Mark rides for food (for others). from Link.
8. M.Teoh. (2021). Malaysian law student helps needy through food bank project. The Star. from Link.
9. S. Looi. (2021). After helping the poor since form 3, this Port Dickson man sets up food banks to feed needy families: Malay Mail. Life | Malay Mail. from Link.
10. New Straits Times. (2021). 3,534 km walk to Raise RM35,3400 for single mothers: New Straits Times. NST Online. from Link.

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