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Volunteers get busy as donations pour in

By CHOW HOW BAN, The Star, January 1, 2005

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- ELEVEN-year-old C. Lokesh went to the Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple in Brickfields on Thursday with his mother and brother to donate rice and clothes for victims of Sunday?s devastating tsunami in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India.

However, his strong volunteerism spirit made the Fairview International School student decide to stay and help volunteers who were busy packing and sifting through the relief supplies which had arrived at the temple. 

<< The hive of activity in the temple's main hall include people praying for victims of the tragedy.

Lokesh, who lives near the temple, and his friend, K. Aravindan, spent hours there, doing whatever they could such as helping to push carts of rice and other donated goods into the storeroom.

The donation drive was initiated by the temple?s management, in aid of the victims of the tsunami which has killed thousands of people in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Thailand.

?I just want to help the victims of this terrible disaster. Many of them are now homeless. I feel for them. We are lucky that nothing has happened to us,? he said.

Another volunteer Kong Seow Yen, from Salak South had stayed at the temple to volunteer since 1pm with her three children ? twins, Shermaine, Sherniee, both nine years old, and three-year-old Sherlynn Chang.

?We initially came here to donate six bags of clothes and shoes. When we saw many people helping out, we decided to help,? said Kong.

Friends Helen Chim, Maureen Tan and Violet De Alwis were busy sorting out medicine and baby diapers and packing them into boxes.

?I donated money, food, clothing and my time and energy to help out. We gathered some friends and relatives for this project and have been here since two days ago,? De Alwis said.

The main hall of the temple is filled with various goods, including rice, mee hoon, medicine, bandages, canned food, bottled drinks, biscuit tins, milk powder, Milo, sugar packs, detergents, cotton wool, blankets, towels, bed sheets, clothes and shoes.

There seemed to be a continuous traffic of people and vehicles streaming into the temple to donate their belongings and foodstuff.

While there was a hive of activity in the hall, Thilaga Lechumanan, 38, from Subang Jaya, prayed for the victims in the shrine.

Lokesh (left) and Baldev Singh >>
pushing sacks of rice into the temple's storeroom.

?We prayed for the victims of the earthquake so that they would be safe now and that God will protect all living things on earth,? she said.

Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society secretary Vinitha Jayawardene said the first round of donations were loaded into a 40ft trailer and a 40ft container on Thursday night and sent to the Ministry of Women?s Empowerment and Social Welfare in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka, where the goods would be distributed to affected families and individuals.

She said the donation drive started on Tuesday and would be extended as long as there was a demand from the victims.

?This is not the first time we are doing this. We plan to distribute the donations not only to Sri Lanka but also to Aceh in Indonesia and India. 

?It will be ongoing as long there is a need,? she said.

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