#KitaJagaKita: How Malaysians Look Out for Each Other in the Coronavirus Fight

by Matthew Escosia
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By: Shaina Semaña

 

In the midst of difficulties during this pandemic, different efforts and initiatives rose in all corners of the world. In Malaysia, award-winning author Hanna Alkaf organized the KitaJagaKita movement to help with the country’s COVID-19 relief efforts. Her innovations and hard work for the greater public truly makes her admirable and be part of the #SEAtizens series.

KitaJagaKita is a Malay term, which loosely translates to ‘we look out for each other’. Guided by this basic term, Hanna started the movement with the aim of making COVID-19 relief efforts easier for both the beneficiaries and donors. The movement does not only see the need for relief efforts, but it’s also aware of the problems that an average Malaysian can face when bombarded with excessive information. This may not only lead to confusion but also to unrealized action,  which is why they came up with the solution of compiling the relief efforts in the country.

Photo from Kitajagakita’s Facebook page.

On their website, the movement describes its concept as a ‘one-stop-shop for average well-meaning citizens to donate to NGOs/initiatives and average person-in-need to reach out to NGOs/initiative’. It’s simple, the team compiles the efforts and initiatives in their platform to give Malaysians easier access to either help or seek help in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Hanna is a Kuala Lumpur-based author, who spent over ten years of her career writing anything and everything under the sun—from corporate emails, to investigative articles, to non-profit press releases, etc. Presently, she spends time with her family as she focuses on writing fiction work. Her debut novel The Weight of Our Sky, which is about the life of a Malay teenager in the historic race riots in 1969 Kuala Lumpur, was published in 2019 and earned her a Freeman Book Award in Young Adult/High School Literature in the same year.

Photo from hannaalkaf.com

In March, during the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, Hanna started the #KitaJagaKita movement with a simple hashtag on Twitter. She started a Twitter thread, listing different organizations in need of cash and in-kind donations. Her tweets garnered attention; first among her friends who became the first volunteers of the movement, and eventually, a lot more got engaged in the movement.

Their website went live on March 18, 2020, with the aim of getting in touch with those who are in need and those who wish to help. Donations vary from cash, food items and even volunteer work. Currently, the movement lists over a hundred initiatives for frontliners, SMEs, and vulnerable communities. People who wish to donate or lend a hand can visit the website and choose which organization they want to help.

The movement continues to expand its list of initiative. People who are mobilizing relief efforts can submit details about their initiative on the KitaJagaKita website. It will then be listed in the website, a few days later, after a team member review it.

Since it started in March, the movement has already inspired other groups in New York, Nepal and Indonesia. They were even able to help launch sister projects—#BharatCares in India and #HilfeRegister in Germany and Austria, with the latter winning the Covid Help Award of the PwC Covid-19 Innovation Challenge. KitaJagaKita believes that the movement they started is not only for Malaysians but adaptable in other countries as well.

For more information and to know how you can be part of the movement, visit their website here.

 

SEA Wave magazine’s SEAtizens initiative is a series of inspiring stories of people in Southeast Asia who champion the human spirit by demonstrating courage, ingenuity, generosity, and selflessness amidst the current crisis.

 

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