Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

My Crazy 72 Hours: Beat the haze with Kechara! (Part 3)

June 24, 2013 5

(Update (27 June 2013): We appeared in the New Straits Times! Well done Red Warriors!)

The day after the Tiffany’s event, I was exhausted. After two hours of sleep, a lot of smiling and balancing on my high high heels, I wanted nothing more than to spend the day in bed, with my air-conditioning switched on, some Italian food and a movie. Except when I looked out of the window, I knew my day was going to be anything but that.

The Beat the Haze team!

The Beat the Haze team!

You see, for most of Malaysians, we have that luxury of retreating indoors when the haze gets bad. Sure, we might complain about scratchy, itchy throats, or sore, watery eyes, or have some difficulty breathing. But the thing is, we get relief. We can walk into any restaurant or shopping mall and get out of the haze, or pop into a corner store and buy ourselves a drink.

Dato' Ruby and the Kecharians distributing in Masjid Negara

Dato’ Ruby and the Kecharians distributing in Masjid Negara

Kechara Soup Kitchen‘s (KSK) homeless clients don’t have any of this available to them. If any of them tried to walk into a restaurant, they would be kicked out immediately. Likewise, they would soon find themselves being escorted out of any shopping mall by security.

When the haze comes, not only do KSK’s clients have to contend with the fumes and pollutants being pumped out by KL’s vehicles, but they also have to deal with the haze that they can do absolutely nothing about. When their eyes burn, their lungs clog up, their throats get dry and their breathing gets shallow, they can’t walk into a clinic and look for help, or walk into a store and buy a bottle of water.

When the haze comes, paying for a face mask is something they can ill-afford when they can’t even feed themselves.

Young Kecharians helping Malaysians

Young Kecharians helping Malaysians

This really bothered me so I started calling around, and asking for help. Once the funds were secured, it was a matter of securing the supplies. Knowing the haze would’ve driven up demand, and having heard rumours of mask shortages, I called Sarah, our pharmacist extraordinnaire who quickly got in touch with her contacts and secured 4000 face masks and 2,400 eye drops for us. It was 3pm when we received word that our stock was guaranteed, as Vinnie and I were standing in Popular looking for supplies to make our buntings.

At 6:30pm, we started to make our way down to KL. From just Vinnie and myself, we now had 15 other people who wanted to volunteer and join us in helping victims of the haze, including Rinpoche! So instead of the one car I had been anticipating, we were now a convoy of three cars!

Arriving at Cahaya Suria, we began to unload and prepare the stock as Justin went to inform the homeless what we would be doing. A queue very quickly formed, which attracted the attention of many tourists who stopped to ask what we were doing.

Rinpoche at Cahaya Suria

Rinpoche at Cahaya Suria

At Cahaya Suria, we gave out 200 face masks and 200 sets of eye drops before making our way to Chow Kit, Maybank, Masjid Negara, Lot 10, Star Hill and Sungei Wang. At every stop, every single recipient received their masks and eye drops gratefully, with some taxi drivers asking for more so they could distribute them to their passengers. One of our most fulfilling distribution points was a line of migrant workers queuing up to unload a container – with such strenuous outdoor work in store for them, I was really pleased we could help them by giving them two masks each.

A mere hour after we had distributed in the less affluent areas of town, we were on Bukit Bintang, waiting at the traffic lights to hand out masks to the motorists and pedestrians. That was a lot of fun – every time the lights turned red, we walked between the cars, knocking on people’s windows asking if they’d like a mask. It was here that our buntings really came in handy…the giant ‘FREE’ written on each of them really helped to drive our message through when people were originally reluctant to wind down their windows, thinking we were selling something! 😉

Rinpoche distributing in Cahaya Suria

Rinpoche distributing in Cahaya Suria

For those of us who have not yet been exposed to such a disparity of wealth in our life, it was a good experience last night to witness the contrast in people’s financial health being completely irrelevant to the fact they were suffering. How so? Well, the hunger that KSK helps to satiate every day of the week affects everyone regardless of their race, religion, background and creed…just like this haze.

I really do believe that in whatever situation, Malaysians who have fewer worries should share some of the relief they can give themselves with those who have more stresses in their life. So am I proud of the work that we did? Yes, very! I’m so happy we were able to help SO many people in such a short space of time and in such a practical manner too. When I was calling around for help, some people turned me down, saying we’d never be able to get it together in just a few hours…and some people didn’t even respond! I’m glad we proved them wrong (in a good way!) because if we’d stopped when they said no, 4000 people would not have been helped.

The reporter last night asked me if there was anything I’d like to say on camera to round off their filming me. What came to my mind (in fact, the only thing that came to my mind!) was that if you see someone and they need help, and there’s a need for you to step in, do it. Don’t listen to the naysayers because by the time you worry about how to get it done, the need will have gone.

And there’s still plenty of opportunities for you to get involved! The haze won’t be gone for another week or so, if Singapore’s experience is anything to go by, so please help out in your own way, wherever you are. You don’t need to distribute 4000 masks…distribute 10! 20! 100! Whatever you can get your hands on, let’s get them out to those who don’t have access!

So that rounds off My Crazy 72 Hours, which started with a dog rescue, went on to a gorgeous party and was capped off with an awesome distribution event!

Now whoever said life in the Dharma was boring? 😉

Our gorgeous buntings!

Our gorgeous buntings!

In action in Chow Kit

In action in Chow Kit

Look ma! I'm on TV!

Look ma! I’m on TV!

Spreading the word in Bukit Bintang!

Spreading the word in Bukit Bintang!

Kechara Soup Kitchen

5 Comments → “My Crazy 72 Hours: Beat the haze with Kechara! (Part 3)”

  1. Jim Yeh 10 years ago   Reply

    “Wow! Good job Elena! You so best!” – Jim Yeh

    Seriously, what you did for the homeless is awesome. You are very thoughtful and kind to do this. (even though you only had 2 hours of sleep)

    Oh and Hello! Excuse me! Why didn’t you give our Guruji a mask as well?

    • Elena 10 years ago   Reply

      We did but Guruji didn’t want to wear it! He didn’t think he should get any more privileges than our homeless friends 🙂

  2. There's No Way But Up! 10 years ago   Reply

    Hahaha! Looks fun and great work!

    • Elena 10 years ago   Reply

      We will hopefully be doing it in Bentong tomorrow morning, and in Muar this Thursday, come and join us!

  3. Ruby Khong 10 years ago   Reply

    I am so impressed by all of you. A chip off the old block eh?

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