The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for some. It has sparked the gift of giving among the global and local community. We have come a long way since March 2020, and the only positive thing out of this, is how ordinary folks stepped up, becoming real heroes, alongside frontliners. People like Uncle Tony…
You may remember Uncle Tony from an article last month on Free Malaysia Today, where his initiative, Food4You, was featured. Well, guess what? He’s still going strong!
For those of you who haven’t heard of the Food4You initiative, here’s a breakdown. Food4You is a soup kitchen founded by Mr. Tony Lian, a 70-year old pensioner, better known as Uncle Tony by volunteers and contributors. Uncle Tony, along with some friends and family decided to come together to assist the homeless and needy in Kuala Lumpur. Working on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, the group hands out food, fruits and mineral water to the homeless and differently abled. Basic groceries are also distributed to underprivileged households.
Despite having received certificates of appreciation from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat- KPWKM) and the Norwegian Government, this NGO prefers to keep a low profile, focusing on its main purpose; which is to provide aid to those who really need it.
We managed to contact Uncle Tony, right after he finished Food4You’s Monday rounds with the Malaysian Association of the Blind (MAB) in Brickfields. Taking a breather from his schedule, let’s learn more about his initiative through this (socially-distanced) interview!
Q: What sparked this idea into action?
- I started this charity idea 6 years ago. I was a donor, starting with mineral water bottles. After witnessing the deteriorating situation of the homeless and poor, I decided to provide them meals besides bottled water.
Q: Going by your efforts, it is clear that you are experienced in organising events and initiatives. Are there any particular incidents which stand out for you?
- Many years ago, while having lunch, a beggar came up to me seeking money to buy food for himself, but the shop owner chased him away. However, I invited him to sit and join me for lunch.
Q: What gave you the idea of distributing food and groceries?
- I knew then, the call of love for humanity was much bigger than money. Hunger drives a man to do anything, but with a contented belly he will be happy and joyful.
Q: Describe the distribution process. Do you have a schedule or rotation for distribution of food and groceries?
- Throughout the years of providing for the homeless and poor, I am glad to say I never had a bad experience. Street people are very gracious and disciplined. They wait patiently in queue to be served. Food service is always filled with humility and gratitude.
- Mondays are dedicated to providing for the blind in Brickfields. Most of them work as masseurs to manage and earn a decent living. But during this Pandemic, they are forced to depend on the general public for food as work became scarce due to the SOP ruling. Having dinner, laughing and chatting with them, simply brings joy and warmth out of everybody. After an enjoyable dinner, it’s always a time to ponder on our blessings. As one of them said, we may have lost our sight, but we have never lost our will to live fully.
- Saturdays we support the destitute by providing groceries, which actually allows them to have food on the table. Many have either lost their jobs or suffered from pay cuts. We provide them the essentials like rice, cooking oil, sugar, eggs, etc. We have recently included vegetables and chicken too, as this ensures them a complete healthy meal.
- The queue in Chow Kit seems to be getting longer. They patiently wait for us to serve. More elderly folks are becoming homeless, sleeping along corridors of buildings. They struggle each day to fend for themselves. Many are left with nothing, losing everything during this Covid-19 pandemic. The streets and back lanes are their only choice of survival. Food provided by the public is the only means of filling hunger to live another day.
Q: If anyone wishes to help you (volunteer to distribute food/ sponsor food/ groceries, etc.), how can they reach you?
- Please contact me at 0178812666
Q: What is it that drives you to do all that you are doing?
- There was just too much pain and suffering all around. In the name of humanity, let’s show compassion and assist those who need help.
Wise words from a wise man. If you’d like to learn more about the Food4You initiative and how you can help, you can contact Uncle Tony @ 0178812666, or visit the Food4You Facebook Page here!
Kudos to Uncle Tony, a real hero of 2020!