While many people are contented by handing money over to another, in the name of charity, some people would rather get their hands dirty (literally too) and witness first-hand the impact they’re making on another’s life.
If you too would like to help out, you should check out EPIC and their mission, to build homes for the orang asli villagers around Malaysia. An acronym for Extraordinary People Impacting Community, the enterprise aims to do just that, by developing ordinary individuals to achieve extraordinary feats – like building a home in 3 days.
Working alongside EPIC founder and Generation T-lister John-Son Oei, we assembled 38 volunteers for the Generation T build which was to benefit Abang Din and his wife, Kak Senum. They are the recipients of the 106th house by EPIC, and the first out of two by Malaysia Tatler.
Before the build: learn the tools of the trade
First off, there’s a training that one must attend, to familiarise oneself with the tools of the trade, as well as the purpose (both of the build and the tools). You will have a hand at operating machinery, from heavy-duty tools, like a drop saw, right down to assembling bolts and nuts together.
Safety is also stressed upon, and you will realise the importance of your safety gear – helmet, goggles, gloves and such during the actual build.
On site: leave your ego behind
Once on site, your attitude is key. You have to leave your ego behind, follow and convey instructions well, and truly be a team player. You should also always have a positive mindset during the entire process, as conditions can be harsh and negativity may affect fellow builders.
Take a break if you need to, wear sunscreen and mosquito repellent, plus remember to stay hydrated.
The modular home system also makes the task slightly more manageable. A combination of the concepts of Ikea and Lego, the separate pieces are made to be put together to assemble the home.
After the build: pay it forward
EPIC also works together with the orang asli communities by having created a pay-it-forward scheme among them – the recipient of a home would then help build three more houses for others, in the future. Thus, we also got some much needed, skilful help from the orang asli.
With the right attitude, proper knowledge and handling of tools, as well as adhering to safety rules, you’re more likely than not to finish on time, and without incident.
Let's hear what some of the builders had to say:
"What stuck with me was Abang Din's smile when he delivered his thank you speech; he had so much joy and gratitude and it made all the hard work worth it. This also made me realise how privileged my life is, and I'm grateful for all that I have." – Denise Chiew, clothing supplier
"The most memorable part of the build for me was seeing how happy Abang Din and his family were throughout the process. I also learnt that it takes a lot of hard work to put together a roof!" – Yong Mei Fong, senior associate, corporate restructuring
"I cherished the handover of the house to Abang Din the most; and I learnt that no matter how big or small, we should help where and when we can – it might leave an impact on people." – Jeanette Simbat, administrator
"I didn't really believe in teamwork, till we built this house; it truly is a testament of working together." – Kim Mun, photographer
"After this experience, I've learnt to appreciate what I have and to not take things for granted." – Ethan Yong, consultant
"From this amazing experience, I've realised that there's so much we take for granted in life, which we should really learn to appreciate more." – William Sin, jeweller
"It was a heartwarming experience, spending three days with a great bunch of people who put aside their needs for a bigger purpose. I learnt a difference can be made through selflessness, team work empathy and perseverance." – Somesh Pillay, business consultant
"I was amazed that a bunch of random people still managed to complete the task on time; I believe it was the right attitude, positive energy, enthusiasm and team work." – Melissa Hew, personal assistant
"Through this experience, I learnt that I can do more than I ever thought I could, like handle construction tools; this really gave my confidence level a boost." – Kiren Ravi, student
"It was spectacular to see everyone coming together as a unit, to build something out of nothing. Our teamwork and tenacity to get the project done is surely commendable." – Bryan Lim, banker
"It was very touching when Abang Din said, during his speech, that we made his dreams come true, and not only built him a home, but a 'palace.'" – Tina Thanabalan, content creator
"I learnt that teamwork is very important in achieving a common goal, and if you really set your mind on something, you can definitely get it done despite the obstacles." – Linessa Low, chef
"I must commend the builders for their positive enthusiasm, including their courage to push themselves out of their comfort zone. I'm thankful to all, for having had the build run smoothly." – E-lim Tsan, master builder
Photos by Sunny Phang / Lazarus
Generation T is Malaysia Tatler's list of 50 game changers making an impact in Malaysia and Asia -- explore the full list here.