Faatinah is a staff member from Global Ehsan Relief Singapore who went on a Community Involvement Programme (CIP) trip to Aceh, Indonesia with other volunteers from Singapore in March 2020.
The sun was scorching hot, but the courtyard was filled with more than 200 villagers, including the elderly, widows, and children. They were all eagerly waiting for their names to be called up to collect their food parcels.
I was decked out in my GER uniform, with metaphorical rolled up sleeves, ready to serve the community of Kampong Lam Asan and Kampong Lam Galee.
The other volunteers and I took a 1-hour bus ride from the city of Banda Aceh, to the rural village of Lam Asan and dropped off at their modest community centre. The disparity I witnessed during the ride over was evident. While the city had many buildings and facilities, the villages had humble homes, and a lack of roads (they were barely wide enough to fit the bus we were on!).
Upon reaching the centre, we saw even some of the villagers unloading the items to be distributed from the truck. After which, they retreated to their queues to patiently wait their turn. Half of the attendees there came from a different village a few kilometres away.
It was a volatile time. Many parts of the world were entering a lockdown phase due to the COVID-19 outbreaks. Their livelihoods were starting to get affected. This food assistance could not have come at a better time.
The beneficiaries sacrificed their time and energy to receive a food parcel that sweltering Wednesday, because they were in desperate need of food before they went back home and into a quarantine.
I was stationed at the cooking oil booth, my job was simply to hand over bottles of 2-litre cooking oil to those collecting their food parcel. I handed out 200 bottles of cooking oil to the beneficiaries, and each one of them received it with a smile on their face, lugging along their sack of rice, carton of eggs, and pack of other pantry items.
The hot weather and heaving the hefty food parcel was a sacrifice they were willing to make, because food was something so scarce in their households.
It was a humbling experience for me, because it reminded me of all the times where I took my food and sustenance for granted.
It reminded me that I should share my blessings with the vulnerable, poor, and needy when I had the opportunity to. Having experienced the food aid distribution, and seeing children carrying a 5kg sack of rice on their backs, the elderly bent over carrying a dozen eggs, it’s apparent that my everyday blessings are a huge privilege to others.
It warmed my heart to know that there were people who are willing to help these vulnerable communities. That there were people on the ground ensuring that they delivered contributions from kind donors all over the world.
You, too, can share your blessings and provide food aid for the vulnerable. A $90 contribution can ensure a family of 5-6 have food to eat for a month.
Don’t delay in your giving – it could save a family from starvation. Click here to make your contribution.