Mission to feed the hungry

KUCHING: Striding down a wooden walkway, Kelvin Wan carried bags of rice and other foodstuff to housewife Isah Bohari at her home in Jalan Foochow here.

This is a delivery he has been making regularly since 2014, when Isah’s family began receiving help from Hope Place, a charity he founded in 2012 to help the needy.

Isah’s husband Ratino Sali has a daily-paid job as a painter, earning about RM500 a month. They have five children aged between six and 16. They also look after Isah’s two brothers, one of whom is mentally disabled while the other is bedridden.

Besides rice, Wan brought along cooking oil, sugar, salt, noodles, biscuits and Milo for the family, as well as disposable diapers for Isah’s bedridden brother.

“Kelvin is a good man, he’s always helping people who are in need. My children all like him and call him Uncle Kelvin.

“I’m really thankful to him and to Hope Place for their assistance,” Isah said.

She said her wish was to move to another house as her current home is in bad shape. The roof is leaking and the walls and floor are rickety.

“I hope Kelvin can help me look for a suitable house to rent,” she added.

Wan, 44, is used to people asking him for help.

He began volunteering with various charitable organisations in 2007. In 2011, when he was at a flood relief centre, he ended up helping an elderly man return to his home in Kampung Kudei.

“He had nothing to eat, so I started to buy food for him every week. His neighbours started asking me for help as well. Soon, I had five families to help.

“Word spread and more people started calling me. After three months, I had taken on 15 families and it was a struggle. I spent all my income and it was still not enough.

“So, I shared the plight of these families with my friends, colleagues and church members. My schoolmates responded by offering to buy food for me to collect and deliver.

“This kept growing … more and more people contributed foodstuff. By the end of 2012, I was taking care of 45 families,” he said.

That was when he decided to set up Hope Place, so that he could be accountable about his charity work.

“In the beginning, our aim was to help poor families by delivering essential food items.

“Now we also provide diapers and milk formula to families with disabled children or relatives,” Wan said.

Hope Place currently helps 182 families in and around Kuching. Besides getting calls from the public or the needy families themselves, hospitals and the Welfare Department refer cases to it as well.

Wan’s motivation comes from his Christian faith, as well as the joy of helping those in need.

“I believe in showing love through action, not just words. There are people who are poor and hungry, and I can help give them food.

“The sincere thanks I receive also keeps me going. And some of our recipients, once their children have grown up and started working, have called me to say we can stop their aid so that some other family can benefit.

“That is such an encouragement to me,” he said.