Rojak Daily is running a series of stories about people in Sarawak who have kickstarted projects and efforts that make a positive difference in the local community. We also hope to give our readers more information about how they can get involved, whether from near or far.
There are many things we all take for granted, because we have them all at our fingertips – food, shelter, money, entertainment, holidays; you name it. However, we should not forget that there are those who are unable to enjoy the finer things in life, as they cannot even afford to have three meals a day.
Three years ago, Francis Ngu Hown Hua from Bintulu, Sarawak founded a project which he named Extrameal Bintulu
. As the name suggests, the purpose of the project is to help the less fortunate in the hopes of giving them just that – an extra meal.
We got to speak briefly with this everyday unsung hero to find out more about the efforts that he is spearheading in the Northern central region of Sarawak.
1. What is Extrameal?
With the current cost of living, the less fortunate can barely afford anything. Some of them receive financial donations and other support from charity organisations, but most of the time, this still is not enough. Extrameal was founded to give further support, in the form of sending food to the needy. It actually started out as a “hobby”, but has now turned into something much bigger.
2. Who does Extrameal help?
We have helped out several families and individuals – single mothers, senior citizens, those with special needs, orphans, and families with very low income. We are currently regularly supporting fifty-three families in Bintulu, Sibu, and Miri.
When we are referred new cases, we usually take the time to interview them to find out if they are already receiving support from any other institutions. If they qualify to receive funding, we will connect them to the right channels to get the support that they need.
Many of the families we help are those who have given up on trying, and do not know where or how to ask for help. As individuals who are better off, the Extrameal team has to step up and step in to lend a hand.
3. How do you spread the word about Extrameal?
We only share information on Facebook. We post photos, videos, and details of our past and upcoming activities. This is not to show off (that I’m a good person), but to create awareness that there are many people in need, just within this region. There are many charitable organisations that follow our movements, and are also very supportive of this project. Facebook is also a good platform to communicate with the general public, so that they know how they can help.
4. How are Extrameal’s activities funded?
I actually use the money as well as contributions that I receive through my advertising business. I work closely with several organisations, and in return for my services, many of them contribute to the Extrameal cause.
5. How often do you go out to send food to the families?
We send out donations, and meet with four or five families every week. We don’t just drop the food off; we spend time with them and get to know them better too.
6. It can’t always have been easy. How have things progressed since Extrameal was founded?
We were initially sneered at for “showing off”, and even the families that we approached were skeptical of our intentions to help. This did not stop us from reaching out to more families. These days, it is much easier, as those we reach out to can see our sincerity in helping them. We hope that more people will join us to extend a helping hand to even more families in need.
7. What else does Extrameal do aside from donating food?
We visit the families to check on their well-being, and help them out however we can. For example, we purchase or source for sponsorship to obtain wheelchairs, medicine, as well as register them for school, and more.
8. How can people help?
We update our Facebook page regularly, with news and details about families in need. We usually include a contact number and bank account number that members of the public may remit funds to, should they wish to help.
For those in Bintulu, we openly welcome new volunteers to help out regularly, contributing not only money and gifts, but also time, so that we can help more families.
9. What are your hopes for Extrameal in the future?
My wish is for more people to get involved with Extrameal’s activities, for there are still so many others in need of help. I hope to meet more people ho are willing and sincere in reaching out to those in need. If we don’t do it, who will?
Do “Like” Extrameal Bintulu on Facebook
to receive updates on their activities.
Let us take some time to applaud individuals like Francis, who help to connect people who want to help, to those who are in need of it. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for being the helpful person you are :)