In a time when most people are consolidating their finances and conserving resources, one local company with a culture of altruism ingrained deep into its corporate DNA is seeing its staff voluntarily pool funds to support frontliners and underserved communities.
No stranger to the concept of philanthropy, the QI Group of Companies has long since inculcated an ethos of giving back to society into its corporate philosophy. Through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm, RYTHM Foundation, the organisation has actively placed emphasis on curating and supporting initiatives that empower and transform communities most in need around the world. However, the company’s altruism is not limited to its CSR arm, as its employees have also regularly organised and participated in their self-initiated staff social responsibility (SSR) projects.
“In the past, the company has always put in the funds while the staff volunteer their time and energy towards the SSR projects. We would organise the initiatives and spend our weekends to do our part for the community. For example, last year we managed to run a blood donation drive amongst other activities, but this year we can’t do that anymore. So, we had to find another way,” said Kalyani Puspangathan, who heads the company’s SSR committee in Malaysia.
The country has been under lockdown since May due to the relentless COVID-19 pandemic, with physical movement restrictions in place that have made traditional staff social responsibility activities unfeasible. After much deliberation, the committee came up with a new approach to conducting their SSR for the remainder of this year. Since contributing time was no longer possible, the staff decided to contribute resources instead.
“We realised that we can still make a difference in our local communities by rallying together as part of the global QI family in order to help those in need and create a positive impact on our communities. Each department had a hand in deciding the amount they would contribute and how they wanted to allocate the funds they have raised which gave them a sense of ownership for this initiative,” said Kalyani.
Over 350 QI staff came together within their departments to raise funds and they accumulated a total of nearly RM45,000 out of their own pockets to be channelled towards projects of their choice. The SSR committee collaborated with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are currently working on the ground to identify the areas where resources were urgently needed of assistance. The beneficiaries of the donations included indigenous Orang Asli families, frontliners and volunteers at vaccination centres as well as families within the bottom 40% (B40) income group of the nation’s population.
“The pandemic has helped us all to see the importance of giving. We take a lot of things for granted, for example, we may not think twice about saying no to the homecooked meal and instead opt for ordering from food delivery services, but there is always someone else out there would gladly take that homecooked meal that we have just rejected,” said Kalyani.
Grocery packs being delivered to PPR Flats
Working with the Ecotourism & Conservation Society Malaysia (ECOMY), the SSR committee channelled part of the staff donations towards provisions for 50 Orang Asli families who were migrating upstream due to extreme heat, drying water resources and poor foraging conditions in their current location. The funds were also apportioned towards grocery kits for 270 low-income families around the Klang Valley who have been struggling to survive since the pandemic began.
“The company policy that requires us, the staff, to give of ourselves – whether it is time, effort or in this case financial resources – has taught us all the value of going above and beyond to lend a hand to others. We are thankful and fortunate to be able to share whatever we have with those who really need the support and we hope to continue being able to make a difference to our communities,” said Kalyani.
10kg bags of rice that were included in the grocery kits
The grocery kits that were supplied included goods such as tea, sugar, oil, sardine, bee hoon, rice, dhal, rice, flour and milk tins, all of which were in large amounts and aimed at sustaining the families for as long as possible. These goods were distributed to families living in the people’s housing project (PPR) flats around the Klang Valley, namely in Kerinchi, Wangsa Maju and Bandar Baru Puchong, through collaborations with NGOs including the Persatuan Kebajikan Pelita Insan Malaysia as well as Beyond Borders.
Beyond Borders is a non-profit that focuses its efforts on promoting and protecting the rights of refugees and stateless persons in Malaysia and they also organised the distribution of cooked meals to the nurses and volunteers at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (PWTC) vaccination centre. The largesse amassed by the QI staff amounted to 1,350 meals that were cooked by single mothers and refugee home cooks and these meals fed the frontliners across 21 days.
Cooked food packs provided to the vaccination centre frontliners in PWTC KL
“We’d like to thank all the staff of QI Malaysia who came forward to contribute to making a positive impact on the communities around us. It might have been the least we could have done, the act of contributing money from our purses and bank accounts, but it made a big difference to those who received them.”