Sokong Team
Fri Jan 19 2024

Johor NGOs Take Stock of Flood Relief Work

Disaster Relief

While relief centres begin closing as flood waters recede and victims start returning home to face the daunting task of cleaning up and facing the loss of their property and the cost of putting their lives back together, some unsung heroes rose to the occasion to lend their hand in rescue efforts throughout the affected areas of Johor.

At the height of the crisis, the government set up 53 relief centres where close to 8,000 victims were placed.

NGOs and Charities like Ihsan Johor, Yayasan Kebajikan Suria, Shechinah Association, and Pertubuhan Kebajikan Wawasan JB have called on their resources and the kindness of the public not only to donate but also contribute their time and energy as volunteers towards the relief efforts.

Flood relief 3.jpg

Ihsan Johor began early in December as they prepared for the flood, beginning with their multi-agency collaboration and preparedness programme in Mersing last September.

Farrah Baptist, Ihsan Johor's chief executive, said, "We had an early start by providing food items during the emergency phase with our NGO Partner Yayasan Kebajikan Suria. Then, Yayasan UEM agreed to partner with us again this year, and they provided infant items such as diapers and infant milk, including some food and non-food items.

"As the flood relief evolved and needs changed, we went to Yayasan Telekom Malaysia and asked for sleeping kit essentials such as pillows, foldable mattresses, blankets, towels, and sarongs," she added. Another foundation, Yayasan Hasanah, provided dignity kits.

Flood relief 7.jpg

Farrah added that their relief efforts reached nearly 2,000 families, including those not staying in the evacuation centres, such as the Orang Asli, who remained in their villages. Some of these villagers were cut off, and the only way to reach them was by boat.

"I estimate that the total value of aid was RM200,000 within two months of flood relief, and we are still providing food, especially to the Orang Asli villages, which are still inaccessible overland as parts of the dirt road have collapsed," she added.

Pertubuhan Kebajikan Wawasan JB (Wawasan JB) focussed their relief work on affected communities in Johor Bahru, especially in the Kangkar Tebrau area and in the Orang Asli village of Pasir Salam on the banks of Sungai Tiram where they distributed grocery bags consisting of rice, eggs, vegetables, oil, salt, sugar and instant noodle.

"We are now ready to assist in the cleanup campaign in Kota Tinggi, which was badly affected by the flood," said Lydia Goh, Wawasan JB's Chairman.

Shechinah Association Johor Bahru focussed their attention on other communities that are sometimes missed by relief efforts.

"We sent aid to the migrant communities in Kota Tinggi with crucial supplies, including rice bags, diverse food items, towels, blankets, toiletries, clothes, and essential household goods," said Founder James Issachar.

Floor relief 1.jpg

Also benefiting from Shechinah's relief efforts is the association's "adopted" Orang Asli village of Pasir Salam in Ulu Tiram.

"Set on at the mouth of Sungai Tiram and on the banks of Sungai Johor, and deep in palm oil plantations, this area is prone to flooding and often cut off during heavy rainfall, even not during the Monsoon season," said James.

Yayasan Kebajikan Suria delivered aid to Mersing, Kahang, Sungai Tiram and Kota Tinggi, the worst affected area peaking with 26 temporary relief centres at one point.

"We mainly provide ready-to-eat food items like bread and buns, instant noodles in cups, Milo drinks, bananas, UHT milk, biscuits, Promex milk powder, kettles (to boil water) and lots of mineral water," said James Ho Yayasan Suria's Founder and current secretary.

"Our volunteers were out daily, working with other NGOs like Ihsan Johor, to coordinate relief and supply efforts," he added.

Flood relief 6.jpg

Where help was needed, but Yayasan Suria could not reach the location, they worked with other NGOs and NGIs to acquire the relief items locally. Yayasan Suria would reimburse them for the purchase.

"Some RM20,000 has been spent on funding them," James said. Still, Yayasan Suria had given the flood victims another RM18,000 worth of necessities.

The flood relief effort is not a quest without challenges.

James said that they were handicapped by not having enough volunteers with 4-wheel drive vehicles and people willing to slog it out with little sleep.

"This hindered our relief efforts, but our collaboration with NGOs like Ihsan Johor helped get the aid out to the victims," James added.

Flood relief 5.jpg

Ihsan Johor had 25 - 30 volunteers at any time, but even though the workload was heavy, Farrah said adequate rest was needed.

"The most challenging was the journey to Kampung Orang Asli Peta and Kampung Orang Asli Punan, which took 6 hours.

"If anyone has been to these villages in the Endau-Rompin area on the banks of the Endau River, one would know it's difficult enough to reach during the best of days, what more in times of heavy rainfall and flooding," Farrah said.

The Kampung Peta and Kampung Punan relief missions were jointly carried out with the Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli (JAKOA) and an army commando unit.

Farrah and James stressed that their volunteers don't just deliver aid and leave during a crisis.

Flood relief 8.jpg

These NGOs have had many years of experience assisting victims of natural disasters, witnessing their effects on them.

"Some of us are qualified counsellors, and we recognise trauma in victims, both young and old.

"So we ask our volunteers to also spend some time talking to them, enquiring about their health and wellbeing, about their families," James said.

"Caring is not just about giving food and other necessities, but also empathising with their plight," Farrah added.

If you want to contribute to escalate the flood relief recovery, support campaigns from Yayasan Kebajikan Suria, Shechinah Association, and Pertubuhan Kebajikan Wawasan JB on Sokong.

by malaysiakini

Join Sokong today and together let's empower giving and elevate impact for a better tomorrow.