When I was seventeen, my mom invited me to volunteer for an NGO called PERTIWI.
“What’s PERTIWI and what were we going to do?” I asked.
She said it’s an organization for Muslim Women in Malaysia and we were going to help feed the homeless. I was weirded out by both of her answers. Firstly, I was a teenage boy, how could I possibly join a female organization and secondly, there are no homeless people in Malaysia or so I thought.
My mom smiled and insisted that I just give it a shot and I did. We went to Tunes Hotel Jalan TAR at 9 PM and what I saw was truly a shocker.
I saw people from all walks of life. Old folks, young kids, and even babies! They all came from different backgrounds. We parked the car at the back alley and I saw a man shooting heroin up.
He said to me, “Bro banyak cantik lah you” and then he passed out.
Being a teenage boy, I was scared and ran towards my mom. She said things like that happen all the time. We gathered with other volunteers there. They too came from all walks of life. The truck and lorry came, we set up some tables, prepared some food and drinks, even goodies and we distributed them to the recipients. There were also some clothing distribution and a medical car that attended to the sick and helpless.
Five years later, I still look back on that day and tell myself that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I am turning 22 now and most of my Friday nights are spent with the great people at PERTIWI Soup Kitchen.
There is Rumah Titian Kaseh too, a shelter home for orphan kids. I try to occupy my time to help people, that, I think, is what I’m good at. I was young and naïve. I didn’t know the truth about my city or the meaning of the word “volunteer”.
Volunteering isn’t just about giving, it’s about looking at life from a different angle. Every time I volunteer, I take something home with me and it’s always something new. I have grown so much since then and I’m more grateful for the life I have now for I see more people that are broken and beaten down, starved and unhealthy, lost and hopeless. I have sworn that as long as I am still alive and well, I will continue to serve and help the ones in need.
Everyone wants to see change but no one wants to make a change. It’s time for us to put ourselves out there and make a change, be the change that the world needs. We can make a difference.
Be the change. Volunteer. Do good.
For more information on the organizations mentioned above, check these sites:
Image credits to Raja Teh.