The act of volunteering can differ from one individual to another. It can range from doing their smallest part in contributing to a good cause to directly extending a helping hand to those in need.
While these acts of kindness can easily be taken for granted, with efforts seemingly gone under the radar, many volunteers continue to go out of their way to provide aid to the less fortunate.
One volunteer, who has been helping the needy for many years is Mohd Yunos bin Haji Pungut. From being on the frontline during the height of the battle against COVID-19 to providing aid to individuals and stray animals, Mohd Yunos has fronted many numerous causes. One recent act of volunteerism that made the rounds in the news was helping an unemployed man get his COVID-19 vaccination in the Belait District.
I took the opportunity to meet with Mohd Yunos to get his perspective on how he came across Zul Azri, and what prompted him to offer a helping hand.
“As a member of the Belait Veterans Association of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, I was contacted by a village head regarding Zul’s situation, who is also an army veteran. “As members, our duty is to ensure the veterans’ welfare is maintained,” he explained.
He noted that those who had approached Zul did so out of the obligation to provide aid or sedekah, but rarely did they take the time to get to know him on a personal level.
“I decided to use a different approach starting with small talks, asking about his time in the army, and making sure to avoid sensitive subjects that might offend him. That led to the topic of his health status and the possibility of him getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.
Mohd Yunos encouraged the unemployed man to visit the vaccination centre at Suri Seri Begawan Hospital, where he worked as a volunteer, to receive his inoculation.
Zul did not have his identity card with him but thankfully he remembered the number, so the centre was able to retrieve his medical file. “Despite the initial challenge of convincing him to the jab, the friendliness of the hospital staff meant that no major issues arose during the vaccination process,” he said.
Mohd Yunos continues to keep in touch with Zul, following his booster shot in April.
Currently, he is trying to get Zul to visit the Mental Health Unit (MHU) to see if there are any signs of mental disorder.
“I am in discussion with the Community Development Department (JAPEM) to register him for financial assistance,” he said.
Mohd Yunos shared that Zul has received various contributions in the form of basic necessities from government and private agencies.
As Zul does not have a permanent home and constantly roams around the district, it can be challenging to deliver the necessities to him. However, since Zul’s sister is supporting him financially, Mohd Yunos is able to reach out to her for help.
The volunteer also recalled another army veteran who lived near a rubbish disposal area in Seria. He helped clear the area of personal belongings and relocated the man to a housing unit run by the Veterans Association Royal Brunei Armed Forces in Jalan Nakhoda Ragam, Kuala Belait.
“Insya Allah, we hope to do the same for Zul. And we will continue to monitor the needy in the Belait District,” he said.
On the common misconceptions of the less fortunate, Md Yunos said, “My advice is to not look down on them. We need to be the guiding light. Some might have fear of approaching them, but if we talk to them in a kind manner, it can often be the starting point of the process of helping, even if it is just a small gesture.”
He also called on the youth to take the initiative to ask the less fortunate about their situation and maybe offer any form of contributions or donations.