By Nor Amirah Mahmuddin
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – The grit and commitment shown by the nation’s frontliners in stemming the transmission of the deadly COVID-19 virus won the admiration of Malaysians, with many organisations coming forward with contributions to reduce their burden.
Among them was Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB) which donated face shields and face masks.
According to MRCB auxiliary police sergeant Mohd Syukri Hussain, since March, he and several members of the auxiliary police have been busy working eight hours a day making face shields and washable fabric face masks, under a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative by the company.
“We are not among the frontliners on duty at roadblocks or hospitals but when we see them using what we made, it makes us feel proud that we are able to contribute at a time when our nation is fighting the COVID-19 menace,” he said recently when met at MRCB’s storage area in KL Sentral here that has been turned into a production room.
NO SEWING EXPERIENCE
Initially, Mohd Syukri’s team only made face shields for the use of MRCB staff as they did not have the equipment to make them in large quantities.
“At first, we could only make 100 face shields a day and then it went up to 500.
“In May towards the end of the Movement Control Order, we managed to produce more than 3,000 face shields that were distributed to the police, Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Ministry of Health (MOH), Fire and Rescue Department and the army for their frontliners to use,” he said.
Currently, Mohd Syukri and his team are focusing on producing face masks to be distributed to the targeted groups.
Although some of the members only had basic sewing experience, they were willing to learn and upgrade their skills through practice and were dedicated to ensuring that their masks met the quality and specifications set by MOH.
The fabric face mask sewn by them served the same functions as the three-ply mask recommended by MOH, explained Mohd Syukri, adding that the first and last layers are made of fabric with an anti-liquid absorbent filter placed in the middle.
Their face masks, sewn out of stretchable scuba material, are made in sizes to fit the targeted users who include schoolchildren.
According to Mohd Syukri, each and every face mask is examined carefully before distribution to ensure that it is durable, comfortable and can be washed repeatedly without compromising its quality.
Currently, he and his team can make about 150 face masks a day.
Meanwhile, MRCB executive vice-president Datuk Dell Akbar Khan said the initiative to make the fabric face masks came about when the company had to bear the high cost of supplying masks to its workforce.
“At MRCB we have employees like auxiliary police and construction workers who use 3,200 pieces of disposable masks a day. Over a six-month period (since they started making their own masks), we managed to save RM136,512,” he told Bernama.
He said the COVID-19 situation in the nation prompted the company to acknowledge the hard work, energy and time put in by the government and frontliners.
“The tireless efforts of our frontliners who have been working round the clock are highly appreciated and our donation will help to safeguard their health,” he said.
As the government has made it mandatory for everyone to wear a mask when in public places starting August, MRCB is also donating face masks to needy communities.
FACE MASKS FOR ORANG ASLI STUDENTS
Meanwhile, on Oct 20, MRCB handed over fabric face masks and filters worth RM13,775 to the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA) and Bentong District Education Office in Pahang for the use of Orang Asli students in 16 schools in the district.
Dell Akbar handed over the masks to JAKOA Bentong officer Zali a/l Rami and Bentong district chief education officer Misnan B. Mohd Damin. The donation was another CSR initiative by the company to relieve the financial burden of the Orang Asli parents and ensure the safety of their children at school.
“The Orang Asli don’t come from high-income families… imagine if one child uses one box of face masks each week at school, then for four children they have to buy four boxes,” pointed out Dell Akbar, adding that MRCB did not want any student exposed to the COVID-19 risk just because their parents cannot afford to buy face masks for them.
Under the MRCB initiative, each student was allocated five pieces of washable fabric face mask and 120 filters which can last them for six months.
“Their parents need not worry as the masks can last a long time and are environmentally-friendly as they can be washed and worn again and their quality is as good as the three-ply mask.
MRCB’s gesture, at the same time, also supports the government’s efforts to check the spread of the COVID-19 virus in schools.
“If the virus is allowed to spread in the school, it will have an adverse impact as it can spread to the local community which will lead to the school’s closure and disruption of the children’s studies. We want to prevent that from happening,” he added.
JAKOA WELCOMES INITIATIVE
Welcoming MRCB’s contribution, Zali said many Orang Asli families were affected by the Movement Control Order that was enforced in March.
“There may have been parents who were forced to spend hundreds of ringgit on buying face masks for their children who were schooling. Hopefully, this donation will alleviate their financial burden,” he said.
Muhammad Rahimi Abdul Manaf, who is the senior assistant teacher in charge of student affairs at Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Dua, said only a handful of parents were anxious to send their children to school although they were informed of the precautions taken to prevent infections.
His school, which has a 100 percent Orang Asli student enrolment, also received a donation of RM1,500 and 100 kilogrammes of liquid handwash, as well as four handwash dispensers from MRCB.
Dell Akbar said MRCB intends to make more contributions to organisations that employ frontliners, as well as welfare homes and tahfiz centres.
“We hope that with these small efforts, MRCB can play a role in supporting the government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Translated by Rema Nambiar -BERNAMA