Last week, we posted about how you can help victims of one of the worst floods to hit Malaysia in the past 30 years. Anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 people have already been evacuated, and 10 people have already died. Guys, this is by far the most wide-spread natural disaster this country has seen in recent memory. Thankfully, your responses on the article and our Facebook page have been amazing, with some readers sending us more information on how to reach out to the victims.
As much as we might be led to think that we’re a people divided, it’s truly heartwarming to see Malaysians come together at a time of need; from businesses to individuals doing what they can to ease the plight of the 160,000 people now left homeless. It’s not just by sending or collecting donations either… Some have truly thought out of the box by offering help in ways that left us thinking “I didn’t even think of that!” and some have just gone straight into the floodwater and worked tirelessly to dispense aid.
So, over the weekend we’ve listed down 7 awesome ways Malaysians have been helping out with the flood, starting with:
1. Emergency broadcasts by amateur radio enthusiasts
In times when power grids and communication towers are compromised, we have to settle back to the humble radio to keep up with what’s happening around us. This is because radio signals have much farther reach then, say, 3G data connectivity. It’s with this in mind that volunteers from the Malaysian Amateur Radio Transmitters Society (MARTS) have been supporting emergency broadcasts on dedicated frequencies for people affected in Malaysia and Thailand.
They’re active on 7.110 MHz with 3.600 MHz being used after sunset (We’re not sure what this means, but we assume that’s the frequency).
2. Banks start doing things for victims that banks don’t usually do
When the floodwaters subside and people are trying to get their lives back on track again, the last thing they want is a call from an Ah Wah asking “Wen you can pay instalmen?”
With this in consideration, Bank Rakyat and Maybank have publicly announced that they would be giving a moratorium (a snazzy way of saying “temporarily stop”) on loan repayments and monthly installments for up to six months as well as stopping any debt collection and legal actions related to repayment. Maybank has also offered to replace cheque books and ATM cards for free and will consider applications to increase the credit card limit for affected victims on a case-to-case basis.
Of course, this is in addition to the existing aid that the banks are already collecting for the flood victims, so good on you bank people! Bet bank people don’t hear these kinds of praises often… (We kid, we kid)
3. Car manufacturers helping victims get back on the road
If you’ve ever had to drive through flash floods before, you’d know that cars and water don’t mix very well… like petrol and water. And because cars use petrol, that’s why they.. don’t… mix… Uhh… yeah.
Aaaanyways, unless you pay a premium for it, car insurance does not cover natural disasters so victims will have to bear the full cost of fixing their water-damaged vehicle. Thankfully, some car manufacturers have stepped forward to help them lower the cost of of doing so. Proton, Nissan, and Honda have initiated relief programs that offer discounts on parts and workmanship, free evaluation, and free or subsidized towing services for their respective customers.
In their own little way, the Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ) are also helping out by offering to replace driving and motorcycle licenses for free.
4. Providing flood relief for our four-legged friends
While most of the focus is on helping people affected by the floods, there are also groups that haven’t forgotten about the non-human victims in need of rescue. Following the additional 20 kilotons of sadness we felt when we read the news of rescued dogs drowning during a flash flood in Kajang, we are comforted to know that volunteers have formed groups to rescue and feed cats, dogs, and other animals in the affected areas. While some of these are strays, many are pets left behind by evacuated owners 🙁
Volunteers have managed to get pet food donations flown in and have set up a temporary pet shelter for the animals; along with plans to distribute some of that pet food to victims who have brought their pets with them.
If you’re interested in volunteering food or assistance, click on the photo below or here for the Kiko Food Bank.
5. Doctors in copters!
As mentioned in point #3, vehicles and water don’t get along very well. Another thing that doesn’t get along very well is health issues and no doctors.
The flood waters have left many roads inaccessible, basically marooning smaller villages and leaving villagers stranded without medical supervision or aid. Enter MIMPA, the Malaysian Integrated Medical Professionals Association.
Under the admittedly-cool name of CODENAME:MARCO, project involves transporting a team of 4 – 2 doctors, a medical assistant, and a nurse – to the isolated places by helicopter. And if you take into consideration how the weather has been like the past few days, you’d have to give the volunteers credit for having stethoscopes of steel. Here’s a quote from their daily reports:
“Mission was conducted with caution via constant communication with air traffic controller. Route through Batu Caves was changed through Kuala Kubu Bharu instead due to bad weather … We flew at low altitude most of the time due to thick rainy clouds. Merting district appeared like isolated islands from above … We saw people waving to us in a desperate attempt to communicate.” – CODENAME:MARCO Report, Day 1
MIMPA is looking for people willing to either volunteer and/or give financial assistance. Here be details:
6. Air Asia and Firefly lend their planes
Air Asia and Firefly have lent use of their planes offered the use of their planes to help out, with Air Asia offering to fly aid workers and items to the affected areas while Firefly is using “all available cargo space” to transport care packages donated through it’s program in collaboration with The Star and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society.
7. Have a 4-wheel drive? Check out #RAOKFLOODRELIEF
In case you’re wondering RAOK stands for Random Acts of Kindness, and this is exactly what a group of people set out to do. First they set up a collection centre for donations (Don’t worry, we’ll be providing details at the end), flew them down to the affected areas, AND drove down in 4WD vehicles to distribute supplies and help in person!
Here’s an account from one of the volunteers in Temerloh:
Also, these guys mentioned that some of the relief centres were full and have stopped accepting people. We’re exploring this in another story soon 🙁
But as far as these guys go, you can keep track of what they’re doing using the hashtag #raokfloodrelief on Twitter or Facebook or check out this link
Their collection point s Ministry of Coffee in Solaris Mont Kiara where they’ll be collecting supplies
till January 9th. More importantly, they’re looking for volunteers, especially those with trucks, to assist in onsite clean-up on January 17th and rebuilding on January 31st. Please call Mike Yip at 012-975 1147 for more deets.
UPDATE: Mike Yip has contacted us to say that they’ll be collecting supplies for as long as they can, so keep ’em coming! Also, anyone got cardboard boxes? They need a way to transport them too!
8. The MCMC goes beyond their scope of duty
While other departments are also helping out with relief efforts, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) really went beyond their limits in helping out.
To start, they got all the local telcos together for a unified SMS donation drive (as in the poster above). Not anything special, you’re thinking? PS: Type BANJIR<space><amount>. Amounts are RM1, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 50
Well, how about the MCMC taking action against those who’re spreading false rumors about the flood? They are currently looking for four people to assist in investigations regarding false news of the collapse of a school in Manek Urai used as a relief centre (FALSE) and that 40 patients in a hospital died due to a lack of oxygen supply (FALSE).
And lastly, if we were to use manly heroic terms to introduce him, we’d say this:
When Nature slaps you in the face, you turn to Shabery Cheek
Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, our minister of Multimedia and Communications has been taking the initiatives mentioned above, as well as ensuring that telecommunications lines are as unaffected as possible. He also recommended that relief supplies should include power banks because, again, people need to know what’s happening around them. This is still within his job scope, you say? Well, here he is on site helping out with the evacuation:
Yep. We think we proved our point 🙂
9. Regular Malaysians who just started doing something
While we did say in the beginning that some Malaysians thought out of the box when it came to providing aid, we should stress as well that they didn’t only think, but they also did. The Malaysian Insider wrote an excellent article about how regular people without governmental or professional connections have been helping out, and we’re highlighting some of them here.
Take for example a group of friends who thought their jet skis would help in rescue and monitoring efforts – they outfitted their jet skis with a rescue kit and got the cooperation of the Royal Malaysian Air Force to transport them to Kelantan.
There’s also the “Touch a Dog” campaign guy Syed Azmi who used Facebook to appeal for donations and pretty much got buried in donations. In one of the instances of humor we got from the flood reports:
“At one point, he had to announce on Facebook that they had an oversupply of baby diapers, with another 1.5 tonnes on the way. “So we stop accepting baby diapers. STOP,” wrote [Syed Azmi] – Quoted from themalaysianinsider.com
Not forgetting the schoolkids, the PINTAR Foundation has also started a collection effort to ensure that schoolchildren are able to start their schooling year as smoothly as possible, considering that many schools are either underwater or used as relief centres and lot of them would not have uniforms, stationary and textbooks as well. These guys work with underprivileged kids by “adopting” schools and improving the teaching and learning experience for children and teachers so please do help fund them regardless. You can send them a cash donation by clicking on the image below.
And lastly, even on Facebook, we see individuals who just started an appeal for donations among friends and family because they wanted to help.
Some last minute notes before you go…
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of how people are helping, and neither are we saying that one way is better than another. Help is help, and sometimes doing is all we need to do 🙂
On that note though, here are some things to take into consideration if you’re planning to make a donation:
1. Every little bit helps – Cash is great at it’s most basic since it can be used to fund transport of supplies as well as purchase them. But make sure you know who you’re donating to! Here are some sources.
2. Put stuff in boxes – If you’re donating physical items, try putting them in boxes with labels so volunteers won’t have to spend time sorting them out. (for instance, “Guys clothes, L”).
3. “Donations” is not “Getting rid of stuff I don’t want” – We’ve heard of collectors getting old clothes, toys, and random stuff “donated” to them. Please… don’t. Not only would these items have to be discarded, it again wastes time and resources sorting through and disposing of them.
4. Don’t politicize! – It really isn’t a matter of who’s helping who or who’s not in the country in times of need. Because whether or not this dude got his face printed on the bags or if it really is leftovers from the last general election doesn’t matter right now as much as that the rice is being distributed.
We can ask why they were giving out bags of rice during the last GE after the crisis is over.
So we’re doing SUPER GOOD now Malaysia, so let’s keep this mood alive. Cos north, west, east or south (except Singaporeans), we are truly 1Malaysia.