Be the light in someone’s day
Article by Sr Angeline Lau,
Province of Singapore/Malaysia.
Our Good Shepherd Convent is located in Johor State at the southern end of the West Malaysian Peninsula, just across from Johor causeway, which separates us from the island of Singapore. The State is one of the main destinations for migrant workers in Malaysia.
Deeply aware that our Congregational and Province direction statements call us to reach out to migrants and refugees, the sisters in the community at Johor responded by assisting migrants and refugees in need who were badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Province Leadership Team supported the outreach activities from the very onset of COVID-19 in Johor by allocating a budget and, together with volunteers and donors, the sisters networked with other parish-based groups in the diocese to reach out to hundreds of migrants and refugees.
The prolonged Movement Control Orders (MCOs) severely affected, in particular, refugees and undocumented migrants due to reduced or lost income and unemployment. Many undocumented migrants also went into hiding for fear of being arrested. Access to food became very difficult, leading to this vulnerable group becoming at high risk of hunger and starvation. A further obstacle was the information and communication barrier faced by the many migrants unable to read and understand English or the local languages. For the most part, our outreach efforts provided food, financial assistance for accommodation, face masks, and other medical needs; some were helped to return to their country of origin.
Sr. Angeline Lau and her team at the temporary One Stop Food Aid Centre in Johor.
A temporary One Stop Food Aid Centre was set up and made available to migrants and refugees living near the convent. Responding to their corporate social responsibility, a few companies made donations to the convent, which, in turn, were sent to the One Stop Food Aid Centre with the assistance of a group of unemployed Buddhist migrants from Myanmar. The One Stop Food Aid Centre has welcomed all migrants in need irrespective of their ethnicity or religion. We have bought and stocked up with whatever food has been needed. We have also run a delivery service for food and other essentials to clusters of migrants who live far away from the One Stop Food Aid Centre. In addition, we transferred some funds for food to those living in very inaccessible areas.
Food packages prepared at the One Stop Food Aid Centre and made available for those in need.
As the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths surge in Malaysia in recent months, it is an intentional daily choice of transcending self-preservation and fears and trusting in God’s providential care to be the light in someone’s day during this pandemic.
“If you always love one another,
if you always uphold one another,
you will be capable of working wonders”
(Saint Mary Euphrasia, Conference 68)
Voices from the ground….
“With the onset of the pandemic, I have been in great emotional turmoil. My resettlement process has been on hold, and I feel very much alone here. The fear of being infected by the COVID-19 virus triggered many panic attacks. I contacted Sr. Angeline, who provided me with the emotional support needed. I tried every way and means to be vaccinated but was unsuccessful. I faithfully turned to God for help. Recently I got a call from Sr. Angeline, who told me that she had made arrangements with her contact, Ms. Anna, to include me in her foreign-worker vaccination list. Only God knows how delighted I was, where the impossible was made possible for me through Sr. Angeline. Everything was arranged, and I’ve received my first dose already. I thank God for his mercy and love in this experience of being treated with so much love, respect, and dignity from Sr Angeline and Ms. Anna – towards me, a poor cleaner.” (A Pakistani asylum seeker)
“As Myanmar Karenni Community leader in Malaysia, I express my heartfelt thanks for all you have been to our community for the past ten years. During this challenging pandemic, so many people have faced hardship, including the local Malaysian people, but you never once overlooked us. You have constantly checked in on our situation. We are very grateful for the financial assistance provided and for the food aid that has helped us survive during this pandemic.” (Myanmar Karenni Community Leader in Malaysia)