Sibu Benevolent Society’s weekly food collection on hold due to MCO

A volunteer helping to collect vegetables from the Sibu central market.

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SIBU, April 1: The movement control order (MCO) has pulled the brakes on Sibu Benevolent Society’s weekly collection of perishable food such as fish, meat and vegetables from the Sibu Central Market for its old folks’ home.

Its chairman, Robert Chew revealed today the Sunday-scheduled collection has not been undertaken for two weekends already.

“We stopped partly to follow the MCO and also because a lot of the stalls are not open due to rotation basis as arranged by the council, so our collection is limited,” he said.

The home operated by the society still has its own food stock but Chew noted that the public were quick to help during this difficult time.

“In fact we got enough food in the store and freezer to feed residents except for vegetables, which we need to top up. We got supplies from someone sending us vegetables and rice the first time. The second time he sent us eggs and fresh chicken. Our home is thus blessed with the charitable gesture of this kind0hearted gentleman who remembers us,” he added.

Robert also revealed Bukit Assek assemblywoman, Irene Chang visited the home with her assistant a few days ago.

“She gave us a box of 50 pieces of face masks which we also happened to have run out of and could not get any in town. She also gave us rice and noodles,” he added.

Robert said in preparation for any eventualities, the home has decided not to accept any visitors including residents’ family members as most of its 33 residents are in their 80’s.

“We just have to play it safe since the old folks are the most vulnerable (to diseases),” he pointed out.

The collection of perishable food from Sibu Central Market has been a routine every Sunday since this old folks’ home was established in 1950. About 20 volunteers divided into two groups would collect food donated by the traders.

The volunteers’ arrival is signalled by the ringing of a large copper bell.

So far only three persons have rung the copper bell while going round to collect donated food items. The first was the home’s founder, the late Chew Giok Lin and later his son, the late Chew Peng Ann followed by his grandson, Robert.

Like his predecessors, Robert will lead volunteers as they move around the market to collect food donations. Hawkers with open arms will donate their items to them. The items would later be loaded onto a small lorry for transport back to the home.

Robert showing the copper bell which he rings during visits by volunteers to the market to collect food.

Upon arrival at the home, members of the Catholic Church will help to clean and store the food in the fridge.

Without the generosity of the hawkers and members of the public, Robert said it would impossible for them to feed the residents which includes 25 elderly women, due to limited funds.

“Without people donating to us, we will have to spend between RM20,000 to RM30,000 a month just on food. That is a big sum which we cannot afford,” he added.

At other times, the community which includes associations, schools and individuals will walk into the home to give donations, either in cash or kind for its upkeep. — DayakDaily