Inspire Initiative 2014: ‘Add Your Service’

Project Add Your Service was the first of its kind this year as Charisma Movement (then known as UKECharisma) ventured into a brand new theme of volunteerism. The campaign-style volunteering project, which was held from the 25th to 29th of August 2014, saw student volunteers exploring the reality of blue-collared workers who do the jobs that are unappreciated in Malaysian society.

On the first day, 9 enthusiastic volunteers went to Tune Hotels Downtown KL as well as the newly opened KLIA2 branch to have a taste of how being a hotel housekeeper was like. Most of the housekeepers and cleaners had to work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. They taught us how to make up the beds, which was actually a very useful skill – and they do it professionally! We assisted them in cleaning the rooms and main lobby. Some of the lucky volunteers at the KLIA2 branch were also given a thorough tour around the hotel and its management system. Although housekeeping work was pretty repetitive, we did gain a lot of insight into their jobs. Each hotel room has to be completely cleaned in approximately 15 minutes, and their work doesn’t stop except during lunch hours as each room has to be cleaned as soon as the guests check out (Imagine hundreds of guests checking out at different times per day!)

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The next day, we volunteered at an animal shelter for cats and dogs. Some of the jobs we did included cleaning the animal cages, walking dogs, washing plates and so on. The workers there didn’t enjoy a pleasant working condition as they had to constantly endure the stench and noises from the animals. It was hard for us, but it’s harder for the workers there who have to face the situation on a daily basis.

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From the third day onwards, we spent 3 days 2 nights at Kebun Kaki Bukit in Kuala Selangor, volunteering as farm workers. The intensity of our work was heightened because not only did we had to work under the hot sun, we had to carry out a lot of manual labour work. Most of us had an unforgettable experience at the farm as we tried things we’ve never done before in our lives – we mixed materials together to create compost for ginger-planting, we did weeding and we harvested kalamansi. You never know how tough a farmer’s job is until you’ve walked in their shoes. For instance, we spent the whole morning harvesting kalamansi, carefully picking the green and big ones out, not to mention putting up a fight with the mosquitos. When a local middle man came to purchase the kalamansi in bulks, we were shocked to find out that 5kg of kalamansi we harvested was only worth RM10!

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All in all, the project was a huge success thanks to all our volunteers. We sure did learn a lot within that one week. Whilst many might refer to these occupations as “dirty jobs”, we finally understand the value of hard work, and that every single cent is earned with blood and sweat. Often, we tend to complain about our jobs, yet we overlook those who have it hard, those who need to work laboriously under the sun to earn a living. We hope that these blue-collared workers will gain the respect and appreciation that they deserve.

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Volunteers of Project Add Your Service: Sean Thum, Andrea Ting, Aizat Nazli, Nik Fawwaz Arief, Celia Chong, Jun Ning, Lew Winston, Ika Hadilah (Welfare Director), Charmaine Tew (Project Director)