Ipoh Echo spoke to Ipoh girl, Hemavathy DM Suppiah to learn more of the non-profit voluntary group, Care Ipoh which she founded at the start of MCO with a single objective – to help the needy and the vulnerable in Ipoh and its immediate surroundings.
Running independently, Care Ipoh is also under the umbrella of the Caremongers Group, a global initiative with a loose network of over 30 such groups throughout the country, most of them based in the Klang Valley.
“It’s truly a team effort. We have a tiny team of volunteers who help to vet and update cases and do the accounts from the back end. On the ground we have a few key runners, and of that group one of my volunteers, Kogi, has offered her house to be used as a temporary storage and packing centre. So all the groceries we order and that are donated to us are sent to her home. She and her husband do the packing, and runners pick it up and send it to recipients. Essentially, we ensure that needy families have groceries that can help them through the crisis,” Hemavathy explained.
How does Care Ipoh identify and reach out to the needy?
“I run The nationwide hotline for CareMongers and so I receive calls and texts from all over the country. For Care Ipoh specifically, we receive information through our WhatsApp group, Facebook page and word of mouth. 90% of our requests come through our volunteers on the ground (from pre-existing contacts), and people contacting us after being told about us by needy friends and family who received help,” she observed.
“Sometimes people ask for themselves, sometimes they ask for needy relatives or friends. We also have a core group of volunteers who have been doing charity work on their own way before MCO, and had a list of families that needed help. Where possible we’ve also done on the ground vetting, visiting the houses to verify information. We focus on local needy families, as there are so many of them, barely surviving in areas such as Buntong, Chemor, and Pasir Puteh,” she highlighted.
The response has been positive as Care Ipoh has helped over 300 families.
“We only help each family once, but we give them a substantial pack of groceries, worth around RM130 each consisting of rice, flour, sugar, salt, eggs, oil, rice noodle, instant noodle, plain cream crackers, Milo, instant coffee, condensed milk, curry powder and sardines among others. The Kuok Foundation has very kindly donated rice, flour, sugar, sardines, tuna and soy milk and that has substantially helped with our reach,” she shared.
According to her, requests from migrant workers and refugees are passed to other volunteer groups in Ipoh that have been doing such work for years, as they already have a vetting and delivery system for such groups in place. “My motto is ‘play to your strengths, outsource your weaknesses’,” she expressed.
“Once, one of our volunteers, Kogilavani Somu on her own initiative delivered 300 cooked meals to poor families and individuals in Buntong, as part of Care Ipoh,” she recalled.
Readers who would like to lend a helping hand can contact Hemavathy via her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hemadms (Hemavathy DM Suppiah-Devi). Monetary donation for Care Ipoh Care Pack Fund can be channelled to MAYBANK 108178878154 (HEMAVATHY A/P D.M.SUPPIAH).
“We need more funding definitely, as we’d like to continue helping post-MCO, many poor families will take time to get back on their feet. That will require financial help. We definitely welcome volunteers, we need people to help with vetting and with distributions,” she noted.
The freelance writer and editor also founded and runs the Ipoh Book Lovers Club for more than three years now. Besides that, she offers guidance to those who wish to set up their own community initiative.
“Wherever I go, Ipoh is still home to me,” the amiable Hemavathy enthused.
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