When Hope Meets Despair

Driving through paddy fields to distribute food items, Nesha Pany and her fellow volunteers found both hope and joy amid the depressing Covid-19 pandemic

By Nesha Pany

What started out as a simple gesture to voluntarily help out seven families in need of help with basic food stuff, Nesha Pany went on to discover that there were many among her who were wishing to do the same in this period of pandemic uncertainty. She writes about the journey.

With COVID-19 cases soaring at its peak here in Malaysia, it feels like we are plunging into an abyss not knowing how worse the situation may get or if this madness will get any better. Not just the spread of the virus that is at concern, from rising unemployment rates to declining mental health, this pandemic is taking a toll on all of us.

Amidst the darkness, we are seeing the act of kindness prevailing in these uncertain times, somehow giving hope to those in despair. The White Flag Project, an initiative by Malaysians have emerged with the aim of helping out those who are in dire need of food supply and other essentials. Its really beautiful seeing Malaysians coming
together, helping one another regardless of age, race, religion and creed, all in the love of humanity.

Knowing a few families around Teluk Intan that were affected, I decided to help them with some groceries solely a personal effort not representing any organisations. Unable to bear the cost all by myself, I initiated a fund raise among my personal circle for this project. Beyond my anticipation, I had an overwhelming response not just in cash contribution but friends coming up to me volunteering to help in any way they could.

From just wanting to help 7 families in need initially, over a month now we’ve served almost 76 of them.
Reflecting on the work we’ve put in, most of our evenings after work and weekends were spent on grocery shopping and distribution.

Groceries worth RM60 are given to each family. Extra assistance is also provided for those who need diapers and milk. Photos by Nesha Pany.

We even covered some of the peripheral parts of Teluk Intan, deep into paddy fields and palm oil estates, places I
never knew existed having lived almost all my life in this little town. The experience was priceless. For many of my friends, this was their first exposure to voluntary social work and it was indeed an eye opener for them. They were surprised by the apparent disparity gap that exist in our very own country- what most politicians and
main stream media don’t talk about.

This project is beyond a personal accomplishment, to me it is a milestone to my own self-development: In the past I resonated with pain and suffering but throughout this project, what I saw in people was strength, resilience, perseverance, and a complete surrender while having the determination to live. They still had smiles on their face
and made the best out of the little they had, something I personally admired as it reminded me the beauty of life.

No doubt there is a growing exasperation with the current political turmoil, yet it is certainly hopeful to see youths coming out and standing up for one another, not just in the White Flag Project. Yes, sometimes it does get overwhelming, feeling like there is so much to be done. Well in challenging times like this, its the power of hope
that keeps us going.