At a tender age of just 32 years old, Nafiz is one of three founders who initiated an independent non-profit organisation with a rather catchy name – Happy People Helping People (HPHPF). Barely a year old, the main aim of this organisation is to generate awareness among the public about the needy all around the world. They also aim to be able to help those less fortunate and at the same time provide volunteers a chance to participate and be of service to the disadvantaged as well.
Real change and not small change
When asked about how the foundation started, Nafiz explained that it began when he was in Kuala Lumpur in early 2013 and he “noticed homeless people everywhere”. “It’s a very very sad sight,” he said, “a sight that left an impact on me.” He strongly believed that there was a need for real change and transformation instead of just mere giving of small change in terms of donations.
After the impactful trip to Kuala Lumpur, Nafiz noticed the homeless and poor in many other countries he travelled to as well – such as Indonesia and Thailand – who were sleeping on the streets and under highways. The wide gap between the rich and poor left him feeling very sympathetic. One such incident was etched deeply in his mind.
“In Khao San Rd, Thailand, during a New Year Eve’s party, I saw a lady scavenging the dumpster for leftover phad thais that were thrown by tourists who could not finish their plate of the ‘very affordable’ phad thais. A few meters away from the scavenging lady, I bumped onto a legless beggar, sitting in the middle of Khao San Rd, while everyone else was partying, drinking and having a good time.”
Nafiz immediately questioned the issue of the lack of empathy in humans and was determined to actively lend a helping hand to the poor.
Fundraising to feed the homeless
Three of them then set up a Facebook Page and initiated an online fundraising project, which lasted for a month. Enough money was collected to fund their first “Feed the Homeless” project in Jakarta. The money was spent solely on the purchase of ready-to-eat food and drinks for the needy (while the rest of their expenditure was self-funded). The food supplies were obtained from a local supermarket then delivered round town for the homeless people. “We managed to give out 60 packs of ration and it felt really good,” Nafiz exclaims.
Moving away from the online flea idea due to some challenges, they decided to change it to a live flea market instead. Donors would drop their items on location, making it more convenient for them to donate. Unsold clothing were kept and given out as handouts to the homeless as well. The funds raised were used to start another two “Feed the Homeless” projects in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru.
“I remember that about 200 volunteers came for the KL project. We made friends with them and realised that there were a lot of such volunteer groups who did the same for the homeless. We are happy to know that, and therefore decided to see the kind of help we can provide in Singapore instead.”
Less fortunate elderly in Singapore
In the beginning, Nafiz thought that Singapore would not have many needy people due to the supposedly stable economy and abundance of rich people in Singapore. However, when he was back in Singapore, Nafiz observed that there were actually many needy families and even homeless people locally who often fall through the cracks and go unnoticed. He realized that instead of begging on the streets (which is illegal in Singapore), many of the elderly in need end up “scavenging for cans and boxes to be sold”.
“I have seen them in Chai Chee, Bukit Merah, Chinatown etc. They are all over the place. We are in a country where there’s 1 millionaire to every 7 household. To me it’s very sad, and embarrassing to say the least. HPHPF then decided to focus on this group of people. The people who helped build Singapore.”
First ‘Extend The Feast’ in Toa Payoh
HPHPF organized its first ‘Extend the Feast’ in Toa Payoh in December last year as a pre-Christmas event. In the spirit of Christmas, the event was meant to spread joy amongst the lonely, as well as to give assistance to the poor. Food rations such as rice, bread and canned food were given out to the elderly who were less fortunate. Moreover, there was a buffet and provision of free haircuts in the event.
“We had 10 volunteers and manage to give away 60 bags to the old folks staying alone at Block 15 and 10 bags to the cardboard-collecting aunties/uncles in that area. It felt great and we decide to organize Extend The Feast 2 which will be coming up this 16th of February.”
Future plans and goals
Regarding HPHPF’s future plans and hopes, Nafiz states that there is a need to continue expanding their pool of volunteers because they “believe everyone needs to play a part to improve (their) community”. “It will also be an eye opening experience for the volunteers. They get to mingle with like-minded people, making the community even stronger. We all will benefit from it.”
Nafiz also hopes to one day be able to build a homeless shelter in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and if there is a need to, Singapore as well.
Upcoming ‘Extend The Feast 2’
16th February 2014
Blk 15 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 (Multi-purpose Hall)
12pm – 5pm
Food contributions and donations are welcome (please click to be directed to their Facebook Page below for more details as to the types of food accepted and method of donation)
Happy People Helping People Foundation’s Facebook Page