“Life is a series of punches. It presents a lot of challenges. It presents a lot of hardship, but the people that are able to take those punches and able to move forward are the ones that really do have a lot of success and have a lot of joy in their life and have a lot of stories to tell, too” – Josh Turner
The quote above speaks to me; in fact it speaks to all of us in Malaysia. 2015 was not welcomed with displays of fireworks; instead it was welcomed with people from all over the country trying to help each other due to the flood crisis which caused much pain and misery. The flood crisis was not centered in the east coast; it became a national catastrophe in a matter of a few hours of downpour. Needless to say the aftermath of the tragedy was indeed a costly one to the nation. Given the current economic condition with the slump of oil prices it has reached the point where the government will have to reallocate the national budget to reconstruct towns that have been washed away by the great flood.
So, we have spoken about the “series of punches” and the challenges it presents is pretty obvious, but the question that remains is: are the people able to take these punches? Are they able to move forward and look for their success and joy? As far as stories are concerned, they will all have one to tell.
I was fortunate enough to be in Kampung Gajah and Temerloh to provide a helping hand to the flood victims. There were too many heartbreaking situations I experienced and I would like to share them with you today.
These include victims who insisted on not seeking shelter at the relief centre and instead stood guard at their homes. It was heartbreaking to realise that their home is all they have and losing that for them feels like life is no longer worth living.
Allow me to humbly offer a few suggestions to make things a little easier for them. The most important thing will be to have a ‘run-away kit’ prepared at all times to make ‘running away’ easier. What is this run-away kit I speak of? Have your documentations such as insurance policies, birth certificate, bank books, fixed deposit certificates and valuable belongings securely packed and stored where in time of crisis it’s a matter of grab and go. Always have a pre-planned evacuation plan in place whether or not you live in a flood prone area.
There is also the developing of a mindset that your life is worth much more than bricks and mortar. This is when you prove to yourselves that you will be able to take the punches move forward and show the world that nothing can stop you from being happy and successful again.
The other heartbreaking situation that affected me was the amount of rubbish I discovered (I didn’t actually have to discover it, it was right there staring at me) while I was there. We have a problem with our waste management system. Not the government, not the city council; it is we as regular citizens who have a big issue with our waste disposal habits. Drains were clogged with rubbish and water was accumulating by the minute and areas that were not supposed to be flooded were filled with water. Mind you, this water carries the germs and bacteria from the rubbish straight to your home and eventually to you. This then causes diseases which could cost you your life. It is a matter of throwing rubbish in the designated area and not everywhere as it is evident that it may come back to bite you in a way that you would have never imagined it to.
The government is already undertaking serious works to ensure that the ‘great flood’ will be mitigated accordingly. It is time we play our role and keep the country and surroundings clean and take necessary preemptive measures to ensure the loss may be a little more bearable in comparison to what the flood of 2014 has made us face.
While I am at it, I would also like to express my appreciation to all the volunteers out there who came together to help our fellow Malaysians in distress. Thank you.
Here’s to a happy and peaceful 2015 and may God bless us all!
Dr Venkates Rao.E