KUALA LUMPUR – Sara Wajiha Azman, 21, has no healthcare or medical expertise to offer, but she has the heart and drive to join Malaysia’s fight against COVID-19.
A second year Universiti Putra Malaysia student, Sara Wajiha is among some 80,000 individuals who have registered to participate in the Malaysia Support Volunteers (MyVac) initiative since registration began in March.
“I’m grateful and consider myself lucky to have been given the opportunity to serve the nation, while learning new skills at the same time,” she told Bernama at the Galaxy Mall vaccination centre (PPV) in Ampang recently.
Reflecting on her stint leading a team of volunteers at the PPV, which is near her family home, Sara Wajiha said she did not hesitate for one moment to sacrifice her semester break for the “one-in-a-million” experience.
As team leader, Sara Wajiha said she has to be fully committed to ensure that everything is in place, noting that volunteering has its challenges as not everyone can be fully committed to serve the community.
“Not all can power through the arduous shifts and have the patience to soldier on during the pandemic as vaccination recipients come from all walks of life, including foreigners, “she added.
“At the same time, not all volunteers can work daily at the centre as everyone has his or her commitments. Hence, I have to be on stand-by mode to swiftly act in times of crisis.
“I have to find immediate solutions when one of my team members can’t make it for work. I have to deploy staff at certain stations to help out,” added Sara Wajiha.
CHALLENGES IN MANAGING FOREIGNERS
She said that the task of managing foreigners who are mostly not proficient in either Malay or English, has its challenges, despite being assisted by interpreters, especially when filling up the vaccination declaration forms and their personal details.
“Hence, it is my duty as team leader to immediately figure out what to do in overcoming such problems when they arise.
“When problems occur, the numbering system has to be temporarily stopped. As such, I have to resort to another alternative to ensure the vaccination process is run smoothly,” she said.
Volunteers, she said, are also directly exposed to COVID-19 infection risks, noting that some members of the public are still unaware that close contacts, suspected or confirmed cases, should not come directly to vaccination centres for their jabs.
“In fact, there are many cases of people doctoring certificates by declaring that they have been tested negative from COVID-19 to get their vaccine shots,” she lamented.
PPV Ampang, which has been set up since July 26 to expedite the vaccination process for residents in the Klang Valley, has the capacity of dispensing 1,800 doses daily. It is open to the public, senior citizens and selected foreign citizens by appointment via the MySejahtera application.
Sara Wajiha who has been actively involved in volunteering programmes at her university also dismissed the notion that the nation’s youth are not supportive of the government’s efforts in curbing the spread of the pandemic.
“…In fact, response from the younger generation has been overwhelming, I understand that there are some 60,000 youth who are eagerly waiting to be accepted as MyVac volunteers,” she noted.
On the time spent at the PPV, Sara Wajiha said she had been working daily at the centre till night as there were times that she had to cope with the shortage of volunteers.
She is also fortunate to gain the confidence of her parents who gave their blessings to serve the vaccination centre.
“At the university, I only interacted with those in my age group. My stint at this centre has been meaningful as I gained experience and knowledge from others of different age groups and background,” she added.
YOUTH AND GOVERNMENT
Meanwhile, Head of Skilled Youth Project Mohammad Rizan Hassan said today’s younger generation are an extremely valuable resource of energy for the populace.
Hence they should come forward by volunteering in community service projects, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.
“Disengaging from the community makes today’s youth a thief, so-to-speak. Don’t rob the people of the opportunity for a better life. We should always work together for the community and nation.
“The younger generation should also take the role as spokesperson for the government during the pandemic. By so doing, the government’s development initiatives can be implemented in a holistic manner and benefit the people,” he added.
Mohammad Rizan, who was the recipient of the “Tokoh Belia Negara” Award in 2011, also urged youth to equip themselves with the latest advances in ICT given that the government’s smart city initiative has been planned to prepare youth for post-COVID-19 pandemic challenges.
Proficiency in ICT skills is vital for youth in surviving the onslaught of technology, he said. Failure to equip themselves with the digital knowledge and skills would make them vulnerable to “attacks” on their lifestyle, religious faith and cultural practices.
“There’s no doubt that the technological onslaught would have adverse implications on society. But if youth themselves are not equipped with the latest technology and multimedia management, they may not be able to manage the potential damage brought on by the onslaught on the community,” he added.