13 July 2020

MERCY Malaysia-MaybankHeart PPE Sewing Project Set to Grow

Kuala Lumpur, 5 June 2020...MERCY Malaysia’s PPE Sewing Project which started out volunteer project to assist Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah (PKD) Klang in March has now evolved into a full-fledged project of its own. The project, currently headquartered in Bengkel Menjahit KEMAS at Sri Batu, Sentul, has since received strong support from Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (KEMAS) and Maybank Foundation, and looks set to expand its operations for the next 6 months.

Covid-19 has changed the way people live, work and play in unprecedented ways. One clear example is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Previously familiar only to medical personnel, PPE is now a household term.

“In the early weeks of the Movement Control Order, supplies of PPE were acutely low. Not only was it challenging trying to source vendors, once we found them, the delivery was delayed by weeks. Stress levels were very high at that time, because frontliners were putting themselves at risk every time they were on duty,” recalls Dato’ Dr Ahmad Faizal Mohd Perdaus, President of MERCY Malaysia.

When the medical personnel at PKD Klang started sewing their own PPEs, MERCY Malaysia deployed volunteers to assist in the sewing. However, the project came to close in April when the sewists returned to their medical duties. The project found new life when Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (KEMAS) offered their premises at Sri Batu, Sentul, for use.

Director General of KEMAS, Dato Haji Mohd Yasid Bidin, explains, “As the main agency tasked with community development at the grassroots, KEMAS has been conducting classes such as sewing, baking, cooking, carpentry and others for the last two decades. With the classes being closed due to the MCO, we were happy for MERCY Malaysia to utilize our space and equipment as part of their Covid-19 Response Plan.”

Apart from the use of their sewing room and 17 industrial sewing machines, KEMAS also provided free hostel and use of their dining room to the sewists involved in MERCY Malaysia’s PPE Sewing Project.

The project, which is supported by MaybankHeart, has produced over a thousand isolation gowns, boot covers and head covers, which were sent to hospitals or Klinik Kesihatan requesting for them.

“We are happy to support this immensely meaningful project especially in these trying times. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges to many people, we are humbled to witness how it has brought out the best in human character, such as people getting together to help others in need,” says Shahril Azuar Bin Jimin, CEO of Maybank Foundation.

Maybank Foundation runs MaybankHeart, a homegrown online crowd-funding platform where individuals and non-profit organisations can raise funds for causes close to their heart. Shahril also thanked the individuals and companies who have channelled their funds for the PPE Sewing Project through the MaybankHeart platform.

“In the long-term, we know that we would have achieved more than sew PPEs because sewing is an essential life skill with multiple applications. Our volunteers who have never touched a sewing machine in their lives are now happily producing well-stitched products and teaching others. There is the potential to turn this into a long-term livelihood project for marginalised communities,” concludes Dr Faizal.