PETALING JAYA, April 15 — The dedication of two volunteers journeying across four states in the country sheds light on the selfless unsung heroes helping fight Covid-19.
Imaret volunteers Mohd Zulhairi Zainol and Mohd Hafizzal Hashim have been travelling to Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang to drop off vital medical and non-medical supplies to health facilities coping with the pandemic.
Imaret stands for the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia Response and Relief Team.
It is a relief non-profit organisation that has been responding to Covid-19 relief efforts through fundraising, deploying medical volunteers and distributing supplies to ease shortages faced by frontliners.
The two volunteers’ journey, which began Sunday evening from Bangi, is well documented on Zulhairi’s Facebook where they can be seen preparing humble meals in makeshift kitchens and eating by the roadside.
“It’s difficult to get food because of Movement Control Order (MCO) but these guys were prepared from the start,” Imaret chief coordinator Dr Ahmad Munawwar Helmi Salim told Malay Mail.
“They brought along ingredients and cooked by the roadside.”
In Perak, they distributed around 1,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) and 11,000 face masks to district health centres and hospitals in their lorry.
They arrived in Kelantan around 1am on Tuesday where 1,000 PPEs, N95 masks and hand sanitisers were dropped off.
“In total they covered around 15 facilities and last night alone, they had to face 50 roadblocks on the way there. Then from there, right away they drove to Terengganu where they dropped off another 500 PPEs and 2,500 masks,” added Dr Munawwar.
The two men travelled to Pahang yesterday where more than 600 PPEs and 7,000 masks will be dropped off before they are scheduled to return home to Kuala Lumpur today.
Even though the journey is long and challenging, Zulhairi and Hafizzal are determined to get the job done.
“We as well as many offered assistance along the way, some offered Airbnb or homestay, but these guys said no.
“They slept in the lorry and kept pushing on.
“When they arrived at our base in Kelantan, we told them to rest but they said ‘It’s okay, we’ll continue,'” said Dr Munawwar.
He added that this was the longest any volunteer has been on the road.
The lads’ previous mission was at Kangar, Perlis but this is the first trip that required interstate travel.
While most of Imaret’s volunteers are from the medical field who employ their knowledge for strategy work and procuring cost-effective supplies, the non-governmental organisation also relies on the goodwill of ordinary Malaysians to carry out extraordinary efforts on the ground.
There are currently 50 Imaret volunteers involved in Covid-19 relief efforts.
Prior to volunteering at Imaret, Zuhairi and Hafizzal were part of another charity group for van jenazah (hearse van) services.
“When they joined Imaret, their first task was to distribute items around the Klang Valley and now we depend on them to distribute items out of state,” said Dr Munawwar.
The altruistic volunteers even use their own money to pay for fuel and food.
“They said to us, ‘Just tell us where to go.’”
The self-sacrificing mission that Zuhairi and Hafizzal signed up for is just one example of many Malaysians stepping up to do what they can amid the coronavirus crisis that is sweeping across the globe.
Asked how volunteers keep their spirits up during this difficult time, Dr Munawwar said it was mixed feelings all around.
He said it was saddening to see colleagues and friends who are facing difficulties.
“For example, there isn’t enough PPE not because the Health Ministry can’t supply them but it’s due to the high usage so we try to support them however we can.
“That’s the part we can play,” Dr Munawwar said.
But ultimately, the hard work is paid off when health workers’ needs are met.
“When they receive the items and are very happy and all their thank you messages, that is good enough for us.
“We don’t need anyone to know, just that the beneficiaries are happy the items are delivered to them,” Dr Munawwar said.