Turning to technology to boost charity activities

Amal collaborates with Boost app where people can contribute to charitable causes by just clicking on the ‘donate to charity’ icon

by MUHAMMAD BASIR ROSLAN / pic by BERNAMA

THE United Nations’ International Day of Charity is observed on Sept 5 every year, with the date commemorating the death anniversary of renowned missionary Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India, who had dedicated her life to serving the destitute.

The International Day of Charity was established with the objective of sensitising and mobilising people, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and stakeholders all over the world to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities.

This year, in the backdrop of the Covid-19 threat, which has reared its head in practically every nook and cranny of this world, charity work and humanitarian relief operations have been impacted as most international borders are still closed to prevent the transmission of the dreaded virus.

In Malaysia, said Amal Foundation of Malaysia assistant secretary Hafizul Husni Alias, it is no longer as easy as it used to be for NGOs to channel aid to needy groups due to the requirement to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government.

“Previously, whenever we have a programme to distribute aid, we just have to gather the recipients and pass our donations to them. Under the SOPs, however, only a limited number of people can be present at any one time and we have to speed up the distribution,” he said.

Technological Boost

Looking at the bright side of the pandemic, Hafizul Husni said it has provided an opportunity for NGOs to study newer ways of collecting and distributing aid by taking advantage of the latest technologies to facilitate their activities.

We have to nurture concern for needy people, as well as desire to extend a helping hand to them, says Amal’s Hafizul Husni

“In this era of Industrial Revolution 4.0, we must apply existing technologies such as the Internet and big data. Some NGOs have developed their own big data that can be shared with other voluntary organisations,” he said.

He added that Amal is collaborating with the Boost application developer to share advertisements of their programmes to reach a wider audience.

“In fact, people can contribute (to our charitable causes) by just clicking on the ‘donate to charity’ icon. It’s easy for us to do our charity work in this technological era,” he said.

Hafizul Husni also said that in view of the fact that youths will comprise 50% to 60% of Malaysia’s population by 2030, more youths must be roped in to work as volunteers in order to mould them into a competent generation.

Many youths are already choosing to join NGOs to serve the community, he said.

“We have to nurture their concern for needy people, as well as their desire to extend a helping hand to them. In this aspect, schools and universities must play a proactive role in fostering the love for volunteer activities among students,” he added.

United in the Face of Adversity

Commenting on the forthcoming Malaysia Day celebrations on Sept 16, Hafizul Husni said both Malaysia Day and International Day of Charity have certain common values. While the latter is in recognition of charity activities carried out globally regardless of race and skin colour, Malaysia Day is about celebrating the nation’s people of diverse races who live together in harmony.

When it comes to performing acts of charity, the thought of only helping one’s own race should not arise at all.

The writer in a humanitarian mission organised by MAPIM in April 2019

“Humanity transcends race and religion,” he said, adding that Covid-19 is an eye-opener as it has taught Malaysians the importance of staying united in the face of adversity.

The writer, meanwhile, has also had a chance to cover and participate in a humanitarian mission organised by the Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisations (MAPIM).

The two-week mission to Syria and Lebanon took place in April 2019. The 13-member delegation from MAPIM handed over food and other basic necessities to Syrian refugees staying in various camps in Lebanon and Syria.

Among the places the delegation stopped at to deliver aid were Beyrouti Square in Lebanon’s Beqaa Province; and the towns of Al-Rashidin (located just 1km southwest of Aleppo), Hayyan and Kafar Hamra in Syria.

The writer was deeply moved by what he saw and encountered during the humanitarian mission and also realised the sacrifices made by the volunteers who put aside their own safety and comfort to help those in need.

It is, after all, the duty of every human being to help relieve the burden of impoverished and deprived communities. — Bernama