PETALING JAYA: To residents of the Lembah Subang people’s housing project, a cupboard tucked away in a corner of the Ara Damansara mosque has turned out to be a life saver when they run out of some essential food items in their own kitchens.
Aptly called “Gerobok Rezeki” (sustenance chest), the initiative is aimed at providing basic foodstuff, such as rice, canned sardines, sugar, salt, soya sauce, cooking oil and flour.
The items, which also include used clothing, are placed in cupboards located in mosques.
People are allowed to take what they need at any time and the cupboard is opened to everyone, regardless of race and religion.
The original idea stemmed from a charity organisation called HUMANITY but it has since evolved into a major initiative funded by a number of mosques as well as well-wishers.
Mother-of-four Nur Safrina Ariffin, is one of those who have benefited from “Gerobok Rezeki”.
As the sole breadwinner, there have been many times when Safrina, who works in a supermarket, had to pay a visit to the cupboard to put food on the table for her children.
“I have to put the shame aside, just to feed my children. They need to eat and sometimes I have no money to buy from the grocery shop.
“I would take a packet of rice, sardine, a bottle of soy sauce and a few eggs. Usually, they could last for three days.
“Even if it is not really enough but at least, my heart is at ease knowing ‘Gerobok Rezeki’ would provide for my children,” the 36-year-old woman told FMT.
“I am relieved that with this assistance, even if it is not much, at least my children do not have to starve.”
Paridah Arsad, 62, is another person who is grateful for the assistance provided by the “Gerobok Rezeki” initiative at the Ara Damansara mosque.
Paridah said if the cupboard at the mosque was empty, she would scavenge for leftovers or edible items in the bins around the neighbourhood.
“Usually I would find rice, onions and dried chillies inside the dustbins. If they are still in good condition, I would wash and eat them.
“Sometimes, I would share these with my neighbours who would ask if I could spare them some,” said Paridah who lives alone.
She added that apart from food items, she had also taken clothes, which were still in good condition, from the mosque’s cupboard.
Suhaila Sanusi, is thankful for the “Gerobok Rezeki” initiative because when she desperately needs kitchen necessities she could just walk to the mosque to get her supplies.
If she is lucky, she could also get a pack of pampers and a can of infant formula for her nine-month-old baby.
“When I am really in need and I have nothing left to feed my family, I would ask the mosque for assistance.
“I am quite embarrassed but where else can I go? My husband’s income is unstable and we have six mouths to feed.
The “Gerobok Rezeki” initiative has been active since the end of 2016 and it is sustained by generous donors.
Abdul Rahman, 59, who is in charge of distributing the goods from the “Gerobok Rezeki” at the Ara Damansara mosque, said many who could not afford to buy food were grateful for the initiative.
“Some of them cry when they get the items they need. It shows how hard their lives are.
“There are some who say they have not shampooed their hair for almost a year and were so happy to get some shampoo from here,” he said.
“Most of them are from the Lembah Subang people’s housing project and they include single mothers and disabled people.
“They look really happy, now that they have somewhere to go and get food supplies for free,” Rahman said, adding that the underprivileged in the community include non-Muslims as well.