Malaysians Come Together To Begin Relief Work

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KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysians have started mobilising the first wave of aid as the flood conditions in Kelantan and Terengganu have taken a turn for the worse with over 23,000 victims evacuated so far.

Many of them are also banding together to make sure their relief supplies reach the east coast flood victims more effectively.

Dr Ahmad Munawwar Helmi Salim, the chief coordinator of the Islamic Medical Association Malaysia’s (Imam) Response and Relief Team (Imaret), said the group launched its first team yesterday morning to deliver 100 hygiene kits to 100 families in Rantau Panjang, Kelantan.

“In the early phase of a disaster, we focus on providing hygiene kits to prevent spread of disease,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday, adding that the kit contains items such as towels, toothbrushes and soap.

“We have only about 300 kits left in Kota Baru to be distributed soon. I just called JKM Kelantan, they still need more. Since the flood started the past few weeks, there are 13,000 flood victims in Kelantan itself. Yesterday, they informed they need 2,000 hygiene kits, we only distributed about 100 hygiene kits,” he added.


He said the first mission yesterday headed by Dr Tuan Zam involved 21 volunteers from three partnering groups, including four doctors and a pharmacist from Imaret, 10 volunteers from 4WD team X-tra Team 4×4 & Dirtbikes, as well as six volunteers from the Kelantan Social Welfare Department (JKM).

Collaboration was key in this first mission to distribute hygiene kits, with Imaret working closely with the government’s Disaster Operation Controlling Centre (PKOB) of the Pasir Mas district where Rantau Panjang is located, Dr Ahmad Munawwar Helmi said.

This mission saw JKM guiding them on where and what the needs are, while the coordination saw other government bodies such as the Fire and Rescue Department providing boats and the Malaysia Civil Defence Force (APM) providing assistance, he said.

He said this was in line with the government’s current system where non-governmental organisations coordinate with the fairly-new National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) on a national level, and with the government agencies coordinating body PKOB at the state and district levels for operations.

He stressed the importance for coordination in flood relief works for the east coast in order to prevent wastage and ensure resources are maximised and distributed to flood victims in a targeted and effective manner.

“I think it’s important because learning from the 2014 experience, all NGOs trying to do the work but not coordinated. This time around government has put initiative in coordination…they are really helpful, they assign us what to contribute and the person in charge…Any NGOs or individuals who want to help, please contact the local district PKOB.

“It’s really a good effort, because this time around, it’s not just us and other NGOs, with this coordination, we will know what is needed and where it is needed. In any disaster response, more important is the needs assessment; PKOB know where the needs are and what is needed, we don’t want our work to be overlapped with others,” he said.

Malaysians want to help

Barisan Nasional (BN) Youth Volunteers’s Ikmal Hazlan, who is coordinating the group’s first flood relief initiative this year, said a three-day collection drive of aid items in the Klang Valley such as dry food, clothing and blankets will kick off today.

“Basically it’s just a programme we coordinate for volunteers in urban areas, because many Kelantanese are staying in KL and Selangor, I got a lot of feedback from those worried about their parents and siblings, so they wanted to find a way to help them, so we initiated this to coordinate,” Ikmal, who is also from Kelantan, told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.

BNYV will be sending the flood relief supplies — with powerbanks being one of the welcomed items — to Kelantan and Terengganu on lorries sponsored by the Uber-like truck rental firm as early as Sunday, depending on weather conditions in the affected states, he said.

The group is currently collaborating with local councils such as in Kelantan’s Tanah Merah, Kuala Krai and Rantau Panjang to get the aid to flood victims that are either still in relief centres or who have returned home and have started cleaning up.

Rather than the more costly method of bringing in volunteers, BNYV will also be collaborating with mostly nursing students from long-time partner Kolej Poly-Tech MARA Kota Baru to provide medical checkups to flood victims — who had in the past experienced viral infection, he said.

Mike Yip, who had helped coordinated Project Random Acts of Kindness’s (RAOK) relief efforts during the massive 2014 east coast floods, said he and his friends are for now contributing only as individuals based on the needs of flood victims.

He noted that their contact in Kota Baru—which had on Monday picked up some flood relief supplies from them for some neighbouring villagers—had noted that most victims were well-catered for by the government.

“Basically I will just collect what they require, two years back, when we do it, one month after the floods, we still have a lot of excess, it took close to two months to clear by donating to orphanages and old folks’ homes. Last year and this year, they tell us what they need, then we provide,” he said.

“Two years back we learnt everybody is doing the same thing, going to same areas, not much coordination…that’s why we basically focus on smaller villages, rather than sending everything to one location that have everything,” he said. “We just do what we can as Malaysians to help one another.”

Sending in the manpower

Malaysian Youth Council deputy president Mohd Zaidi Aziz said the council’s Terengganu and Kelantan branches have already mobilised aid since last week, while volunteers from the council’s national level will be joining the Youth and Sports Ministry to provide aid in Kelantan this weekend.

According to the council, they have so far deployed 80 volunteers in both Kelantan and Terengganu with aid provided to as many as 197 families and 698 flood victims located at evacuation centres.

“MBM distributes aid kits such as hygiene kits, baby kits and essential needs such as food and clothing,” it said, adding that it was seeking for funds instead of collecting items as it would be easier for its state-level councils to buy relief supplies.

Muhammad Husmar Afdzal Husin, an officer with the Youth and Sports Ministry volunteerism initiative MyCorps, said about 20 participants will be joining a post-flood mission this weekend for cleaning-up in Kelantan.

Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) executive secretary Nor Aziah Budin said the group’s Kelantan and Terengganu state branches have already provided relief supplies and sent their state-based volunteers from the start of the east coast’s floods, adding that she will be going in a team of 13 today in the MRCS headquarters’ first trip since the floods.

The three-day trip will see MRCS bringing along 300 boxes of drinking water and hygiene kits that can cater to a family of five each to its two adopted villages in Terengganu, with each box costing around RM60 to RM75 containing soap, detergent, towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, disinfectant and sanitary pads, she told Malay Mail Online.

“Because before that, we already positioned our relief supplies in states, that’s why when floods happen, straightaway send flood supplies to the particular area…Normally whatever disaster that happened in states, the states will respond first as long as they can handle, and if they request from HQ, we are on standby — volunteers, items and logistics also,” she said.

MRCS had already donated one boat each to Kelantan and Terengganu last year and will be going down to Terengganu today with two lorries, three four-wheel drives and one boat.

MRCS had in 2014 adopted two villages in Pahang, the two villages of Kg Bukit Tadok, Hulu Terengganu and Kg Padang, Ulu Setiu in Terengganu, as well as the four villages in Kelantan’s Kuala Krai area — namely Kg Keluat, Kg Aur Duri, Kg Bahagia and Kg Dusun Nyiur.

“MyCorps’s team will carry out cleaning up works at homes, schools and halls. Cooperation with the Kelantan Youth and Sports Department and the Kelantan Youth Council,” he said, adding that the work would be at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Rantau Panjang and Kampung Kuala Nal.