p pol The Adventures of Carboman: Volunteering With Mercy Malaysia

Friday, January 07, 2005

Volunteering With Mercy Malaysia

I'm no stranger to volunteer work. When I was schooling it was a norm to help out at the Old Folks' Home and other charity organizations. This part of my life slackened after I joined the rat race and subsequently became non-existent after I got married and attained fatherhood.

My chance came when my company put up a call for donations and volunteers to help out Mercy Malaysia at the Nationwide Express warehouse in Shah Alam. A fantastic number of volunteers (over 170) were raised. Work shifts were flexible, so together with about 30 others selected the 10am to 2pm block.

Groggy from just 4 hours of sleep the previous night, I made my way to the Taman Melati LRT station where Joyce will pick Jessie and I up. Newton will hop on near his home. Getting there was a pain. The morning rush hour was sickening so I took the chance to catch some shut-eye, even though I couldn't really doze off.

When we got there, many Citibankers were already hard at work. All the women were busy sorting out the thousands of plastic bags of clothings. Some had masks and gloves on. These womenfolk were soon joined by about 100 workers from Western Digital. Our motley group of men rallied to the rear of the warehouse to receive the sorted clothing. Busy forklifts hurried here and there with loads of cargo.

The centre section of the warehouse where the food items were stored. We've cleared plenty of the stuff, hence the available space.

There's nothing methodical about our tasks - no further need to organize. We just need to stand ready to receive the loads the forklifts were throwing us. It was all pure muscle work. We chucked thousands of bags of clothing, shoes and what-nots into a stack that nearly reached the roof. The large packages were really heavy but there were a couple of large men in the team hefting them like nothing, one of whom by the name of Sonny, impressed me with his strength.

To understand the work we had to do, picture this:
1) The hundred over women sorted and packed the clothing
2) The forklifts shipped the stuff to us
3) The 10 of us men (A few Good Men??) stacked them high

Newton and I, exhausted after the heaving. Note the mountain of clothing the 10 men piled on. Please, don't donate any more clothing. They need food!

It wasn't particularly hot but we were drenched. Being two of the lighter men around, Newton and I stationed ourselves on top of the heap to move the smaller and lighter bags to the top of the pile. This went on for some time. Then I went to look for more help amongst the women and managed to locate a few more men and assigned them to our team. I also passed the word to the women to ensure that they bind the bags up more securely as many came undone.

While most continued this labour, Sonny and I redeployed inside the warehouse to tackle the bags of rice. We had to stack the 5 and 10kg bags into piles of 50 and 100 on the wooden pallets. A few more experienced Nationwide guys then helped to arrange the bags so that they can be wrapped in transparent plastic which looked like the shrink-wrap you use at home, except this is much stronger.

Our team was so efficient that we cleared the entire day's work in 4 hours. The Nationwide folks were impressed - I guess they expected bankers to be wimps! The Citibank company's coordinator rang back to the office to redeploy the afternoon and night shifters to the Red Crescent office as things were getting a little critical there. We were the last Citibankers to leave the warehouse at 1pm. After a quick lunch nearby, we refreshed at Jessie's club and returned to the office. I'm really pooped as I'm writing this report and I will have to give today's run a miss.

To those reading this posting, I'd like to stress the following:
1) Don't donate anymore clothing - there's already more than enough
2) Do donate food. Rice, instant noodles, bottled water, bisquits, hygiene products are what's needed the most
3) For goodness sake don't use these facilities as a dumping ground. You can see how much garbage in the picture below
4) Go out and help at the Red Crescent Centre in Jalan Ampang. They open over the weekend too

Look at the amount of junk inconsiderate people dumped here! These were sorted out by the ladies earlier

Happy volunteering!


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