GEORGE TOWN: When the going gets tough, the NGOs get going to where they are needed.
Despite being cash-strapped because of the Covid-19 pandemic, several NGOs are not slowing down in their efforts to help the disadvantaged.
They have persisted in their charity work even when the movement control order (MCO) was first enforced in March.
“We are now focusing on helping the frontliners battling the disease, ” said Penang Buddhist Tzu Chi Merit Society Malaysia commissioner Khoo Boo Leong.
“We talked to them and bought things to them based on their needs.”
Thus, he said the group has been providing frontliners with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essentials.
“We are committed to giving humanitarian aid to the frontliners, ” he added.
For those impacted by the prison cluster here, Khoo said they had donated mattresses, pillows and other essentials to the prison management.
Public donations, he said, were slowing down lately due to the economic situation.
Echoing his sentiment was Peace and Harmony Home founder Tan Swee Ban, who said they had been receiving lesser cash contributions these days.
“We still get food and essential items. But we no longer receive the cash contributions that we used to get, ” he said when contacted.
The home is a non-profit nursing home in Jalan Thomas, Bukit Dumbar, that has been in operation for 10 years. Right now, it has 32 residents, the oldest being 105 years old.
Tan said the pandemic had affected the operation of many charity homes and centres in Penang.
However, he pledged to continue to run the centre with whatever he has at his disposal for the sake of the community.
“Life must go on. We have to find other options so that the operation can run smoothly, ” he said.
Penang Muslim League, another NGO which has been active in helping the needy, said it was still receiving public donation.
“But if the pandemic is prolonged for the next one or two years, we will face problems, ” said its deputy president Shahul Hameed Syed Mohamed.
He said most of the contributions have been coming from its members who have been constantly donating cash to the association.
“We have been doing charity work since 2002. Our members are ready to give when needed, ” he said.
On a related matter, Penang Health Department director Dr Asmayani Khalib said NGOs which sent donations and essentials items to those in the red zones in the state must follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) as outlined by the government.
She said the risk of infection could be lowered if everyone followed the advice strictly.
“Always be alert and follow the SOP, ” she added.