ANGELA KARTO is a housewife, a mother of three, and is the wife of Erwin Azizi, and hails from Indonesia. She is also well known for being a socialite, but during the pandemic, Angela decided to reach out to communities in need.
“Before Covid-19, my family and I contributed, we sponsored a ‘Rumah Tahfiz’ for Rohingya orphans. Back then, I donated funds to organisations and whatnot. When Covid-19 came, we were on lockdown,” said Angela.
During the first lockdown, her daily routine changed. Her three sons began to ask her a lot of questions about why they could not go to school or go out and play and her husband was stressed because he could not go to work.
“On top of that, my father has a tumour that was scheduled to be removed in Singapore and I could not go and see him or be with him. It was a lot. A lot of things were happening.
“I’m usually very private when it comes to my family on social media. Hardly anyone knew what I was going through except my husband, his family, and a few of my closest friends.
“In the first month, it felt like we didn’t even change out of our pyjamas. You wake up, you do breakfast, whatever (else) and take a shower and you literally change into another pair of pyjamas. After a while, I felt like I was living in limbo.”
To stay sane and connected, Angela kept in touch with her friends through Zoom and FaceTime. One day, the group of friends came across an article about a foreign worker who ate a rat to survive because he was starving.
“I shared it with one of my groups, it was really sad. Because we are cooped up inside, we have no idea what is happening outside. What people are going through.
“We felt that we should help but we didn’t know how or what was the first step. Thankfully, I spoke to a few friends and they told me of Caremongers. It is actually a movement that started in Canada, with the aim of helping your neighbours or people who live in your area.”
It was a learning experience for her and her friends. They began by helping day workers.
“From there we learned. We used social media to help spread awareness. We share what is going on and welcome those who want to join us to help them.
“Most of our days are spent vetting the people because we need to talk to them to find out what they need. Because there is no point in giving them something they don’t need.
“For example, when we sent care packs to Sabah recently through Kembara Kitchen, I asked the volunteers why there was no rice in the care packs. They said it was because the people that they are helping are paddy workers, so they don’t need rice. So it would be pointless if we give them rice.”
Together with her friends Yasmin Yusuff and Tan Wan Jia, Angela is actively helping those in need via Caremongers Ampang.
As someone from Indonesia, she is amazed at the number of non-governmental organisations in Malaysia that have stepped up to help those in need, especially during the pandemic. She experienced first hand how a coalition of these organisations was established and how they help one another to help others during a time of need.
“Malaysians are just amazing in that way,” said Angela.
She shares how the government, through the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Malaysian Air Force, has been helping out with their efforts.
“When we first sent help to Sabah, we used an air cargo service and it was expensive. We tried to look for another solution and that is when someone suggested that we try and ask for help from the Royal Malaysian Air Force. So we did. And they helped us a lot.
“Together with the Ministry of Defence, not only did they provide us a way to deliver the Kembara Kitchen supplies by air, but also provided manpower, creating human chains during a downpour to move the boxes from the aeroplane to the transport,” said Angela.
Her drive to help others did not go unnoticed by her three sons. She showed them who they were helping, showed them that not all children have what they have, and slowly, they began to help their mother with simple things like carrying boxes, packing the care packages and labelling ... except her youngest, who is only three years old.