Sara Hamidah

For a good cause

A law graduate-turned-activist shares her experience with the Hunger Hurts Malaysia organisation which provides aid to the needy

Article from the Sun daily by Leena Zuki (posted on 14 May 2020)

SARA HAMIDAH is a law school graduate, who is currently doing her pupillage. Not only that, she is a part-time makeup artist and the marketing director of a youth non-governmental organisation known as Hunger Hurts Malaysia.

The 24-year-old has been exposed to charitable events from a very young age owing to her mum, who was very involved herself. Meanwhile, makeup was an outlet for Sara to take her mind away from her studies, but it became a part-time job in which she finds joy.

What inspired you to pursue a law degree and how do you plan to utilise it?

“Most of my family members are either journalists or lawyers. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at that time. To be honest, when I graduated from law school, I was not even sure. Everyone was so sure that they wanted to be lawyers. But, I never had a solid answer. When I did my pupillage, I knew that this wasn’t my calling.

“Law is a good degree to fall back on for me, because I did learn a lot from it. But for now, I’m interested in expanding my career as a makeup artist, but I am not looking into practising law.”

How did you first get involved with Hunger Hurts MY?

“I am actually interested in social organisations, like the United Nations. The Hunger Hurts MY organisation was under the UNGC (United Nations Global Compact) before it was disbanded this year, due to changes in management. Now, the organisation is a member of the CSO-SDG Alliance.

“I’ve always been involved in charities and fundraisers. My mum is actually very involved with these projects. After school, my mum would usually drag me to all these activities.

“I couldn’t find an NGO that stood for a cause that I truly stand for. I used to be a musician, and I happened to meet the ambassador of Hunger Hurts MY during an art event. He shared about the organisation and suggested that I check it out.

“Then, I did my research. I really stand for the principles that Hunger Hurts MY promotes. My friend gave my name to the committee and I went for three interviews and I was promoted as the marketing director of Hunger Hurts Malaysia last year.”

What does Hunger Hurts MY do as an organisation?

“We focus on the homeless, the urban poor, and the B40 category in Malaysia. We often reach out to children as we have the intention to break the cycle of poverty. We are also registered under the Ministry of Youth, because we are all under the age of 40.”

Can you share with us a recent project that you were part of?

“The organisation organised a project called Sole Searching Shoe Drive, to help out schools in rural areas in Perak. Most of the children were from families with incomes below RM500. We helped in terms of providing them school shoes, by hosting a fundraiser.

“I’ve heard stories where kids share their school shoes with their siblings, and this is very common in big families with very low incomes. Children wouldn’t usually open up to others about their situation. Some of them arrive late to school because they wait for their siblings from the morning session classes to come home and pass them their school shoes.”

How can people volunteer for the Hunger Hurts MY projects?

“You can check out our website (www.hungerhurts.asia). Also, you can download an app called Mighty Networks. It connects you to other NGOs and you can fill up a form to be a volunteer. So, whenever there is a charity gig, we will contact you.”

Are there any ongoing projects during this movement control order (MCO) phase?

“Yes, it is called the Kinder-aid Project. We shaped this programme to sort of mimic the app Tinder, where we match donors with aid receivers. We gave out forms to people staying in PPR (Program Perumahan Rakyat) flats and register with us. Then, our research and development team will vet through the information and once it is approved, they will be matched with donors. These donors are expected to also fill up a form and specify what they want to donate; for instance, financial aid or groceries.”

Are our local people very helpful in providing aid for the needy?

“Yes, we Malaysians are very helpful! In just 18 days, Hunger Hurts MY managed to help 58 families, and each of these families has received RM500 per household. This is an example of how helpful local people are. A lot of other organisations also managed to achieve their target within short periods of time.”

Is there such a thing as too much help?

“From our research, there are instances where homeless people tell us that there is a lot of food wastage. Some areas are covered by specific NGOs, so we don’t cross those areas. Sometimes, a lot of people want to help but they don’t get in touch with the NGOs. Everyone wants to give but they don’t know where to do that. So, they end up donating too much food where it ends up being wasted.”

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