By Fr Alvin Ng, SJ
KUCHING — The Ministry to Migrants has been distributing food aid on a bi-monthly basis to migrants in the city and the greater Kuching area since May 2020.
While the nation-wide Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) has allowed most businesses to resume with safety precautions in place, many migrants in the city continue to find themselves unemployed, employed but with reduced salaries or put on an uncertain daily employment/wage roll which means that if there is no work for the day, they do not get paid. At the same time, they struggle to pay rent and debts while trying to put food on the table.
While Malaysians are fortunate to receive a number of financial aid packages from the government, foreigners in their midst are left out of the relief plan. With overseas travel restricted and the question of home going impossible, migrants find themselves trapped in a limbo of fear and uncertainty. To this, one cannot turn a blind eye or a deaf ear.
The latest food relief distribution undertaken in September 2020 saw some 102 migrant families assisted with packages of food supplies good to last about 2 weeks. Assisted by His Grace, Archbishop Simon Poh himself, the Marist brothers and volunteers from the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Youth Commission, the Ministry to Migrants embarked on yet another mission, hoping to make this an inter-ministry collaborative effort on the part of the archdiocese’s response to the cry of the poor.
With no end or relief in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry estimated many migrants will continue to need food assistance for the next twelve months and beyond.
A pictorial guide to the distribution in September 2020
It begins with the delivery of the food packages from a local supermarket. Volunteers gather to unload the food packs from the supermarket and load them into our own delivery vans (on loan with kind permission from St Peter’s College, Kuching).
Each 20-item food pack costing RM100 consists of a 5-kg pack of rice, packets of instant noodles, a bottle of cooking oil, sugar and salt, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, green beans, assortment of canned food, a dozen eggs, biscuits, ikan bilis, ground nuts, instant coffee powder, soap and toothpaste.
A small cash donation is also added to the foodstuff. This is handy for the migrants to top up their phone credit to stay connected.
Travelling in a convoy of vans and MPVs, the team traversed the entire city, making a total of 18 stops, from shophouses in the city to factories in the outskirts of Kuching.
At the end of a tiring day, it is the call of Christ’s poor in Mt. 25:35 – 40 that moved each volunteer to do his or her little part and being given in return, the grace of humility and gratitude. These sample texts (among many received) say it all:
“Thank you po its a big help for us” – Filipino migrant brother
“Terimakasih Atas berkat yang telah di berikan kepada saya dan istri beserta Anak. Semoga kita semua selalu dalam lindungan Tuhan yang maha kuasa Yaitu YESUS KRISTUS TUHAN DAN JURUSELAMAT 🙏 Sampaikan salam Terima. Kasih saya pada seluruh tadi 😊🙏” – Indonesian migrant family
Berterimah kasih kpd Fadter,bersama anggota lainya,karena dgn penuh kasih,dan peduli terhadap kami semua 🙏🏻yg ada di sini..kami semua bersyukur,dan berterimah kasih sebayak-banyaknya….🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻….”
The next distribution is planned for end-November/early December 2020 to ensure that the migrants would have something for Christmas 2020. For those interested to assist, please contact Fr Alvin Ng, SJ at email@example.com for more information.
Editor’s note: Fr Alvin Ng, SJ is the priest in charge of the Ministry to the Migrants of the Archdiocese of Kuching.