Founder of Cell Biopeutics Resources, Research & Scientific Advisory Board Member for private companies and co-founder of the The Hope Branch Community & The Joke Factory, Dr. Jezamine Lim Iskander had a dilemma when the MCO was first announced last year. But it was during this period that she discovered a high demand of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) locally, so Dr. Jezamine and her husband, Harith Iskander quickly decided to pull their contacts together and purchased bulks of PPEs for our frontliners.

Thereafter, she approached Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid, who runs the Pertiwi Soup Kitchen, to check how things were going with her. When Dr. Jezamine found out that they were also suffering as there were no funds coming in during this time, she decided to take matters into her own hands by cooking for those in need, which reached up to 2,000 packs of meals in a week. “This was also when I realised that I could bulk cook. I was really happy because I love cooking, and that’s how things started to fall into place for me,” shares Dr. Jezamine. Moving forward, she wants to use her voice to challenge gender inequality and give more to those who are in need.

What was the one thing you challenged yourself to do more of during this pandemic?

“It was mainly fundraising. The amount of money needed was very high and we couldn’t ride on public funds all the time too. So what we did was register ourselves as a certified NGO (Pertubuhan Amal Harith Iskander) and our next phase is to make this organisation and our funds more sustainable. Everyone is struggling at this time, so that’s something we need to look into as well.”


Why did you choose to fight for this cause?

“I think it was because when you go on ground, you actually see what’s happening out there. It kind of shocked me as we didn’t really go out and feed our street friends on a regular basis. When I did it for the first time, I saw kids around the age of three who were running towards me for a bottle of water and I just thought to myself, ‘Is this really happening in KL city?’ If you head to downtown KL at about 5 or 6pm, you’ll see them starting to wind down and put out their mats to sleep – and that’s when I started to wonder how I could make these funds sustainable so that they could get a better place.”

What other big plans do you have lined up to achieve your goal?

“At Pertubuhan Amal Harith Iskander, we want to make all our missions sustainable. Not just by feeding the needy daily but we want to teach them how to use their basic skills and talents as they are more than just people who are living on the streets. So empowering them and lifting them up will be our next goal. We do go down and communicate with them as well. For example, we just came back from Penang where we met this elderly lady who was in her 80s. We told our volunteers to check up on her as we have heard of her and wanted to see if she needed any help.

When we went on ground, we found out that she actually fell down three days before we saw her. No one came to see or help her and she was soiled. She didn’t have diapers nor anyone who could help her at that time. We also found out that she had a distant relative who comes to see her occasionally, but who didn’t know that she had fallen down too. It was just at the right timing as we got to alert the head of community who assisted her immediately, and we came back the next day and spoke to her for about two hours.

Her house was in a terrible condition, so we postponed our trip back home and asked her how we could help her. And you know what? Her reply was heart-breaking because she told us that she’s already in her 80s and she’s just waiting for her time, and she doesn’t want to trouble us. So what we did next was break our team into three groups: one went to the Indian street to get some stainless steel and aluminium utensils, another went to the pharmacy while the other team went to Tesco to get her some mats and more. Then we gathered back, helped her clean up and throw things that weren’t meant to be there, and she was very happy. I think it was very uplifting for her and for us as well, as we learnt how life can be very simple but we are the ones who are making things complicated.”

As a woman, what does this year’s  International Women’s Day mean to you?

“It’s about uplifting others and I know many mothers and housewives out there struggle a lot. We always forget about them but I think they struggle the most because it’s truly not easy to stay at home 24/7. Staying at home all day long was a struggle for me as I’ve always been on my feet prior to the MCO – running around and doing so many things, so the whole day used to pass by so fast. Now, sitting at home for three days in a row or a longer stretch has really made me reflect and wonder how these ladies manage to do it all.”

To find out more about Dr. Jezamine Lim, click on the video below.

Photography & videography: Tan Guo Xiang

Art Direction: Zariel Zahann

Styling: Rachel Dulis

Coordination: Vasenta Selvanayagam & Yang Mei Ling

Assisted by: Angela De Souza

Makeup & hair: Moon Tio/Makeup Miracle

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