Happy ending to an appeal for help

Like the Good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love.

– Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church

Let me share a delightful episode. With the gloom and doom hovering over us these days, we could do with a heart-warming story to spread some cheers around.

We have all heard of the saying, “Good things happen when you least expect them to.”

If you wait expectantly, then nothing seems to happen the way you really want it to. If you just let life play itself out, then good things will happen because you weren’t anxiously waiting for them to happen.

So, it was with this little episode which started when a Kuching friend now residing in Australia sent me an appeal for assistance last Thursday.

(No names will be mentioned as I did not have the permission of the persons involved to pen this article. I will just call the key personality in this story “Ah Seng”.)

My friend’s message on Feb 25 read: “Sungei Maong Market, near Pisang Road West, Kuching, has been closed due to the MCO.

“A stall operator there, Ah Seng, a man without a home and an income now, needs urgent assistance. I hope you are able to get someone to help him.”

I then requested for Ah Seng’s contact number and location to reach him and was informed that he does not have a phone. He has been sleeping rough at the market. Ah Seng is near 70 and single.

I told my friend that the NGO I’m involved in, Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS), has a welfare fund and we can provide immediate relief for Ah Seng.

The situation is this. My friend is in Sydney and I am in Kuala Lumpur. Both of us are not in our hometown, Kuching.

Sensing the difficulty and hassle in locating Ah Seng, my friend then, understandably, decided to forget it, telling me that he will meet and help him when he gets back to Kuching. Meantime, he will pray for his welfare.

For some strange reasons, I then responded telling him that in such a situation when the man is probably hungry and needs immediate assistance, prayer will not help. I added that by the time both of us manage to get back to Kuching, Ah Seng will probably be dead.

We left it at that.

The same day, I happened to be online with a federal minister friend, and in passing, mentioned Ah Seng’s case. It was just a conversation and I had no intention to seek help from a busy minister to attend to a minor/simple case, such as this.

I was surprised when the minister responded “how can I help?”, telling me that “I can send my staff to help. Just give me his location. No need publicity. I just want to help”.

Five minutes later, she messaged me again: “I sought help from my Chinese friend in Kuching. I am now in KL too. Hope he can find Ah Seng”.

Let me say this. I appreciate that the minister was quick to act. Here is someone who understands when urgent help is required. You have to act quickly if you are really sincere. It’s as simple as that! So, well done, Dato Seri Menteri. 

The next day, the minister updated me with a report from her friend in Kuching that Ah Seng could not be located that afternoon but he would return to the market the next morning.

The next day, a Saturday, it was mission accomplished. Finally, Ah Seng was located. The minister sent me a photo of her contact handing over an “ang pow” of RM1,000 to Ah Seng.

I was also informed that the grateful Ah Seng asked the minister’s friend who sent him to provide the monetary assistance. Ah Seng was told there is no necessity to know but that there are helpful and kindred souls who wish him well.

I am so happy that Ah Seng finally received the immediate aid he needed and that everything ended well for him for now and hopefully, in the days to come.

On Sunday, I called the minister’s Good Samaritan (whom I have not met) to thank him personally for his good deed. He told me that he would be checking on Ah Seng again.

The next thing that Ah Seng needs is proper accommodation, so he told me. Sleeping rough at the market is not the answer for an elderly man in the long term.

What is my objective in penning this story? It is not to seek credit or publicity for anyone. All the players here wish to remain anonymous. Many others have also been generous in helping the needy in our midst. They should also be applauded.

My message is this: Even if we are not physically present in a location where people are destitute and need help, there are always others who are prepared to reach out. If we cannot help, there are others who can.

Let us remember this. “Alone, I cannot do much. Together, we can do much more”. So, let’s work together. 

And to those who are suffering and in despair, please know that there are kind, sincere and generous souls ready to help.

Don’t give up. You are never alone.  

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.