Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pay It Forward Ipoh: It Starts With You

Pay it Forward, a term that has never been heard much in Malaysia yet. What exactly is it?

Throughout these years, other countries have been hosting a pay it forward program for those who are in need. People from the public would usually patronize a particular shop and offer to pay a meal or drink in advance. These advanced meals that are paid for would be given to the homeless or those who need a meal badly as they patronize the shops.

Wanting to do something for the community that is in need is not easy. After all, not everyone is rich enough to give everything they could. Coming up with the Pay It Forward project in Ipoh was the best thing that could happen in my life. I am also glad to have a good partner, Nas, alongside to make all this happen. It was not something we expected too much of. It was just a little something that we could do to help change someone's perception in life.

Knowing that Nas had been whole heartedly giving out food for years and also with sufficient information about the needy, we decided to give it a go in starting up this project on 10th April. With insufficient manpower and also donations, we could only start by providing a target of 30 people, once a week. 

When it started off, we only provided noodles, a drink and a snack. Slowly, we worked our way through the budget and gave it a shot in providing 30 of them a box of noodles, porridge, a drink and a snack at a budgeted RM5 each. 

People started finding out about this small cause through the local newspaper, Ipoh Echo, and started offering help. Donations started coming in and the publicity helped us in getting volunteers. We were happy to see people giving up their time and effort in supporting this cause. 

This cause was formed not just for charity. It is formed mostly out of love. What difference is this cause from any other charity organizations out there? There's just so many.

Pay It Forward Ipoh is formed by different races and religions. We want the homeless to know that they too are loved. They do not get much attention like any of us. Think about it: As you walk past a homeless man on the street, would you stop by and ask him how he is? Would you ask him for the time? Would you even stop to greet him "Have a nice day"? Just imagine living a day in their shoes. I can never imagine that feeling of being neglected everyday. 

After some brainstorming, I finally came up with an idea of how to connect the public to communicate with them. Besides volunteer work, which some people may not be comfortable with, the public may write their message on a piece of paper as they contribute. The messages written on the paper is a contribution to the homeless. It may be encouragement words or even messages of love. Messages will be attached to the meal as it is distributed to the homeless.

Throughout the 2 months, people have been pouring in a lot of questions:
1. How does the payment work? Is it a one time thing or is it an installment plan?
The payment is a one off thing. We do not want people to feel obliged to pay monthly or weekly. We only want people to give out of love than to give for the sake of giving. We do not want the public to feel like they are supporting the cause because they are committed to it long term. Every contribution should be from the heart.

2. Does the organization earn anything from this? Why?
No. As we do not have an office, we do not earn any single penny from the contributions. We are doing this good cause from our hearts. It is just a small gesture of love to the homeless. We do not intend to take advantage out of this.

3. How would you know whether the people who are getting the food are not conmen/syndicates?
Nas had been giving for years now and he knows the faces of the homeless better than anyone else. He would not simply distribute food to whoever who is lying on the streets. Besides, what we are distributing to them are only food that is sufficient for themselves to consume. We do not hand any cash to them. As donations build up in the future, we would use the money to buy them daily supplies or necessities. 

4. How often does the distribution happen? How many people are there to distribute the food?
The distribution is only on Sundays at the moment, from 9pm to 3am. The long time frame is due to shortage of manpower. In Pay It Forward, there are no workers, only volunteers. On a weekly basis, without any public volunteers, there would only be 1 or 2 people to pack up the food and distribute. This is why we need the public to come in as volunteers.

5. How do we contribute?
Head on down to Stadium Food Court on Tuesdays to Sundays at 6pm to 11pm, at stall number 3 to contribute. You can then pen down your message for the homeless, then you're good to go!

6. Do we need to contribute before participating in the distribution?
No. We welcome anyone to join us in the distribution process. Just contact 019-6456745 for information of distribution locations and times.

7. Where can we find more information on this cause?
Do search for "Pay It Forward Ipoh" or "Stadium Tian Mi Mi #3" for information of the cause or opening hours. You can also email

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