CSR - The House Makeover Experience

Yesterday, I spent the whole day helping to make over a senior citizen's house. Yes, it was one of our company's CSR activities. If there was one thing I like about working where I'm working now, it is the passion and compassion people have towards helping other less fortunate people. So in that spirit, we all woke up really early and left home at the crack of dawn to Batu 18, Hulu Langat.

The humble shack we visited - before the makeover

Every time we had CSR activities, it never fails to make me realise how lucky and blessed my life is. I know sometimes I feel miserable about work, work and work environment (no Fab 5 to cheer up my days). But at the end of the day I have Suami Terchenta to go back to, my family back at home, a regular paycheque to keep life going sweet and smooth.

Others may not share the same privileges that I have always taken for granted. Take the example of this makcik we visited yesterday. She is a spinster (unmarried lady), with no family, sebatang kara. She was so lonely that she caught a cat to cheer her up and kept it on leash so it won't run away. Unfortunately, the cat died after that. She was still asking for the cat's replacement when we visited her.

The house after we painted it - and in the middle of getting her possessions out of the house

When I first peeked into the house, the condition was enough to make me feel depressed. That was just one look - the makcik spent every day waking up to the depressing state of her house, the musky smell of damp floor, trapped stale air and whatever that had stayed permanently in the house for years.

She had no bed, not even a mattress to lie down on. Her bedroom was unfit to live in (except for mice), so she slept in her living area, on a hand-me-down carpet that emanated a smelly odor around the house. She did not have any furniture save for a small dining table and a slightly bigger but worn out table where she put her food supply (some had even passed the expiry date). Since she did not own a cupboard, she hang her clothes on a stick which she hang on a corner of her living room, and behind the hang clothes were the clothes rack where she kept donated clothes (some were not even in good conditions).

As we were clearing her house, a few mice appeared from nowhere and ran all over the place. The girls screamed and ran out (including moi). Thankfully nobody passed out. Hehe.

We separated a few good things and threw out the rest that we deemed broken and un-usable. Then we washed dirty things, took out her carpet and threw out her very old, rotten tikar getah (vinyl mat) so we could install a new one. After her house was cleared, we gave her wall a coat of whitewashed paint to brighten the interior of her house, washed her window, painted the window-sill and her front door, and then fitted in the vinyl mat.

Instantly, the house was transformed.

The smelly odor is gone, the brand new vinyl mat is fitted in and the wall looks brighter after it's painted

It was a far cry from the place we saw in the morning. We put in new furniture in her house including a new bed, a new wooden cupboard and canvas cupboard, as well as a new cooking cabinet. We fitted in new bedsheet, new curtain and new bathroom cabinet. Then we organised her food supply including the ones we bought for her and taught her how to use the electric kettle and the new gas stove. The makcik looked all flustered but happy once her house resembled more like a house than just a run-down shack.

Outside, her house compound was also transformed. The men had cleared out the lalangs, overgrown branches and her drain. It looked 10 times more spacious than before.

No more lalangs around her house compound

But at the end of the day, I still felt really sad for her. Sure, she may have a more live-able space to spend the rest of her days, but when everybody left, she was all alone again. I wish we could give her something more than just materials, but we could not.

My colleague brought his son with him to the makcik's house. As he was working, his son lay down on the floor and played by himself. The makcik could not stop looking at the little boy with longing in her eyes. She kept on saying, 'Kimi duduk dengan makcik ye. Nanti Kimi duduk dengan makcik, nak tak?' all the while holding the boy's hand. The boy, in all his innocence, shook his head and withdrew his hand.

It just broke my heart. All she ever wanted was someone to love and banished the loneliness she felt in her heart. It was the same pain I felt when I did my first CSR - this 15-year old girl who was from Sarawak, abandoned by her mother at the orphanage and suddenly she met a fellow Sarawakian who understood her language and hugged her and listened to her story. And suddenly it's time to leave - and she stared miserably and longingly at this someone who could be her big sister - someone who could love her and not just take care of her.

I still could not find the courage to find her again - because I could not bear to break her heart again.

I want to always remember this feeling - that life has been kind to me no matter how crappy I feel nowadays.

I don't have a close friend in my office to talk to, like last time? The makcik does not have anybody to talk to all these years.
I don't have any kids and my biological clock is bugging me? The makcik never found her partner and never could have kids at her age.
I don't like my job and I wish I could quit my job now? Well. I guess at least I have income that I could spend helping other less fortunate people.

Sometimes people, you will never know how good life has been for you. Not till you have gone out and helped others who never had the life you have. So, whenever you have the chance, go and help others. Because giving never makes you feel poorer, it makes you feel richer.

At least that's how I felt. G'nite folks!

4 comments:

  1. great job CSR! may Allah repay ur kindness & bless u with a wonderful life!

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  2. Alhamdulillah... What a lovely person you are; seriously. Not many people would spare the time for such things. And those who do (because of CSR requirements) sometimes don't feel the impact as you seem to have.

    And what a transformation to the house! Bravo to your team!

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  3. Fusherna: Alhamdulillah, thanks for ur doa :)

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  4. mediha: Thanks dear :) It doesn't only help those in need, but help me as well to be grateful for every little things in my life...

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