Volunteering on the Front Line
Young Entrepreneur and full-time actress and presenter Hjh Noor Monasalieana @ Suzie Hj Mohd Salleh, Youth Recipient Award Winner in 2019 and co-founder of Sukarelawan Belia COVID-19, knows a little bit about what it’s like to work on the trench lines in this current battle against the pandemic. She was there to initiate Sukarelawan Belia COVID-19 and their Operation Centre in the first wave last year, and this time around, they’re better prepared and organised to make a stand.
Mona was kind enough to take some time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few questions about what she’s doing right now on the front lines, and what you can do to help your community in this pandemic.
Can you tell us your involvement in this fight against the pandemic?
I am the co-founder of Sukarelawan Belia COVID-19. It started when we were meeting at the Emergency Operation Centre (MOHEOC) when I realised that Majlis Belia Brunei and Jabatan Belia Sukan were all under one Ministry, and so I asked everyone to work together and form up Sukarelawan Belia COVID-19 under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. So in March last year, I stepped up to gather youth volunteers from across the nation under Sukarelawan Belia to offer assistance toward government agencies, in particular the Ministry of Health, in fighting the outbreak of COVID-19 in Brunei.
Later on I also initiated a large scale donation drive (under the Sukarelawan Belia Donation Drive Team) to help families in need who are affected by the pandemic.
What's the environment like right now during the second wave?
There’s a slight difference between the first and second wave. For the first, it was everyone’s first time. It was the first time Youth Volunteers had to run a 24-hour Operation Center and we had to start doing everything from scratch: which includes making Standard Operating Procedures and Protocols dos and don’ts, sorting out administration, operations, checkpoints, volunteers, flights, volunteer welfare, and so much more. Eventually Sukarelawan Belia got into the swing of things and matured, and we were able to easily manage the number of volunteers and tasks by a click of the link at www.sukarelawanbelia.com.
It’s more manageable at the operation centre this time around since we don’t have to start setting things up anymore, and so myself and a few of the youth leaders prefer to be on the ground and hands on in assisting the Ministry of Health front liners as they need more people and need to make critical decisions. We’ve left the management of the Operation Center to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports where we keep ourselves easily reachable, but since the outbreak this time is happening faster, and spreading throughout the community, I’ve enabled MMPB (Malam Minggu Pusat Belia) with the collaboration of STKRJ Kampong Katok B to open up a Donation Drive targeted to help the underprivileged, front liners/volunteers, vulnerable communities, and workers affected by this disease. These are people who can’t afford to buy masks, gloves, sanitisers, house cleaning items and other essentials necessary to this fight.
Aside from these hectic on-the-ground duties, we also go from checkpoint to checkpoint handing out rations and taking care of the welfare of our volunteers.
Seeing how hard you work in keeping the community COVID safe, tell us why you think it's important to get vaccinated?
Vaccines strengthen our immune system, and by getting vaccinated you’re not only protecting yourself, you’re protecting the whole community too.
Why is it so important for everyone to stay home and stay safe right now?
At this point in time, we don’t know what is out there, if this unseen enemy can be found, whether those who have tested positive have left the disease somewhere else. We are not 100% swabbed nor fully vaccinated. We don’t have information on who is the carriers. So let’s work on lessening the possibilities of transmitting COVID-19 to the community, and so it’s best to stay at home and ensure the community and your own safety. Shield yourself, clean your house, ensure those you live with are not publically in contact with anyone.
The most important knowledge you can have in combatting this disease is to keep yourself healthy, because once you’re sick your shields weaken and it’s easier to be exposed to this pandemic.
Do you have anything to say to the community?
Please don’t panic and be patient. Help the community by staying safe and maintaining good hygiene in your home or office. If you want to help out more, there are plenty of organisations out there right now that need your help with donations.
Please do listen and obey all guidelines as instructed by the Ministry of Health. This is a real situation and we need to take it seriously. Dengan izin Allah berkat Brunei Bersatu, InsyaAllah we can flatten the curve back to zero.