Case Work and Emergency Response
In the course of our community work, we inevitably come across a range of individuals and families facing particularly daunting circumstances. We cannot respond to all of them but we do our best to address specific needs of individuals, families or communities through referral or direct assistance.
This has at times been supported by particular partners. For example, the European Union/Suhakam provided financial support for 40 elderly and 40 single mothers identified by our refugee community network as being in particular need. The APPGM project (related to Sustainable Development Goals) have also provided support for assistance for those struggling to pay for child delivery. And we are able to refer and be supported by wider partnerships and networks, for example through the Penang Working Group members and UNHCR. Of course during the time of Covid19, there was a huge effort by many groups and individuals to support households including refugee households. See the separate page on this.
Fatimah, a mother of three young children, comes to us in tears. Her husband, working 'illegally' on construction jobs, has been detained while on a bus. Fatimah has no idea where he is and, with no money coming in, does not see how she can feed her family and keep a roof over their heads. Our community workers alert UNHCR of this issue, so that UNHCR can take appropriate steps for his release. Meanwhile, through our mobilising of community donations, temporary emergency support can be provided to the family.
Nurul has been ill for the last few weeks. He has a high fever and backaches. He believes it might be dengue fever, but does not have the resources to go to the government hospital where he will be charged foreigner rates. These rates are far beyond what he can afford. ASPIRE Penang is able to connect him to the Medicins San Frontiers (MSF – Doctors Without Borders) clinic in Penang where he can get treatment for free.
Heavy rains periodically inundate low-lying areas of Penang. These areas are typically where low income families live, including refugees. In November 2017, unusual rainfall flooded thousands of homes, affecting hundreds of refugee families and destroying their few possessions. Through our strong community networks, we were able to identify those that needed help (refugees were not included in government response). In partnership with Kembara Kitchen, Muslim Aid and Penang Working Group members, we were able to coordinate delivery of emergency supplies to some 500 households.
Flood Relief, December 2017
One of our community teams ready to distribute aid to households during Covid.