With Joy and Enthusiasm
I was 17 when PERTIWI was established although endless meetings amongst the founder members began from when I was 16. My sisters, Rahmah (Kak Mah) and Zakiah (Kak Anum), were among this group of women who worked tirelessly and firmly towards realising their objective of setting up an organisation for the betterment of women and children.
On hindsight, I realise now how young they all were then. These days, women of that age often give the excuse of being too busy having to juggle their time between their careers and their families to do any charity work. Yet the founders of PERTIWI were only in their late 20s and early 30s when they saw a need for such an association and went forth to set it up. Such strong women they were! What an impact that made on me, a teenager who was restless and eager to accomplish great things but lacked the discipline to conform to basic rules and regulations.
From time to time, my sisters roped me into helping them with PERTIWI’s charity bazaars, charity concerts, charity golf and whatever else I could be called upon to help. I always enjoyed being involved with their fund-raising activities.
My sister Kak Anum was always fun as a leader. Whatever she did, she did with total dedication and enjoyment. It was sheer joy for all to be involved in her activities, right from the planning stage, to the actual event, and culminating in her fun and lavish thank-you dinners. Her enthusiasm rubbed off on all around her, creating this ambience of excitement and festivity. Under Kak Anum, voluntary work was aptly that … kerja dengan suka dan rela.
I remember preparing for Konsert Bintang Pujaan in 1970, perhaps my first major involvement with PERTIWI. We had to sell tickets to the show at Stadium Negara. Imagine sending teenagers to places such as the Tentera Udara base, Mindef, and so on. We were instant hits with the armed forces! We sold the tickets quite, quite easily. We helped with the props too. Assisting the stage designer, Daud Omar, I remember scrunching up aluminium foil for the stage and back-drop and wondering how the effect would be. It was really good … very futuristic, with a space-like look to it. The singers wowed the crowd and the night was a huge success. I don’t know how much was raised from that charity concert though.
Charity bazaars were held from time to time too. Those were really happy events made all the more enjoyable with the participation of family members. I remember my brother Farik taking part in the nasi goreng competition. I remember PERTIWI members busily manning their food stalls, selling the most delicious proudly-prepared special dishes made from family-guarded recipes. There was a Big Walk once in Petaling Jaya Old Town, which involved VIPs, families, friends and supporters. I will always remember the late Mak Cik Pak Deris from Kawasan Melayu taking part in the walk. She entertained us so much with her innocent antics prompted by Kak Anum, of course. I once took part in a fashion show held in conjunction with one of these bazaars and a large photo of me appeared in the papers which embarrassed me so much. What year was that I wonder?
Our Kelinik Sehari experiences were always satisfying but absolutely exhausting. Going for a medical check-up, something which we take for granted, is a special treat to those who do not have the means to do it easily, either for lack of services or lack of initiative. But once we were there in their kampongs, with the volunteer doctors and nurses, the kampong folks did come forward. The women, for example, sought help for simple yet annoying problems such as fungal infections and itches which stemmed from basic lack of hygiene. There were the odd cases of early detection of more serious medical problems but the majority was cases which could be treated by our Kelinik Sehari doctors. We were always grandly welcomed by the kampong folks wherever we went, giving the occasion a festive atmosphere. They fed us until we were stuffed.
I enjoyed our PERTIWI Charity Golf Tournaments of those days too. The idea for a charity golf tournament was first mooted by my brother-in-law, the late Dato’ Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, Kak Mah’s husband in 1968. Before PERTIWI, no other charity organization had thought of this male-favourite fund-raising event and for that I am grateful to my late brother-in-law. Nowadays charity golf tournaments are frequently held although PERTIWI has slowed down somewhat. Besides, the event these days boast of grand prizes and distinguished golfers, not quite what one would associate with a relatively low-key organisation such as PERTIWI.
I have plenty of memories but, like most PERTIWI members, I lead a very active life. I have three grandchildren whom I adore but don’t spend enough time with because I also have to manage five companies. Ani, PERTIWI’s faithful clerk, has been chasing me for this short essay. Although I have been telling her that I really am busy and cannot find the time to write, she will not take no for an answer. So, here we are … some of my memories of PERTIWI over the past 40 years. May our beloved organisation continue to flourish in the spirit of volunteerism.
Munirah Abdul Hamid
11 May 2007