Note: The storyteller has asked to remain anonymous.
My name is Aisyiah* (Not real name).
I’m working in media, but recently my time has become pretty flexible.
It was on Day Five of the Movement Control Order (MCO) where the idea came to me to deliver my food to Putrajaya Hospital.
I’m the main chef in my house, so I cooked for everyone who boarded with me or came visiting. But that day I made too much food.
As I was gazing out my window, a thought suddenly crossed my mind: What about hospital frontliners?
Doctors and hospital staff don’t have time to cook
My brother, who used to work as a doctor at Putrajaya Hospital, put me in touch with a hospital worker, Mr. Ariffin.
Mr. Ariffin told me, “Because of the added patient load, the doctors don’t have time to call for food delivery services or even go to the cafeteria to grab a bite.”
Inspired by his words, I went straight to the kitchen and made about 70 sandwiches. Mr Ariffin offered to deliver the food, and he went straight to it.
I love bread! But growing up, buns and cakes were so expensive.
So I learnt whatever I know today from baking classes — buns, noodles, cakes, mini-pizzas.
Baking in the morning, working in the afternoon
For the next few days, I made doughnuts, pasta, bread and mee goreng. It was enough for about 150 people.
Here’s my daily routine: Every night, I would prepare the dough. At the crack of dawn, I would bake the bread. (I have a breadmaker, so that speeds things up for me.)
After that, I would prepare the sauces and stuffing for the rest of the daily menu.
Once all the dishes are ready, I would pack the food in styrofoam containers and cardboard boxes for delivery.
Just before noon, Mr Ariffin would roll up to my house and bring the food to the hospital. He would then distribute them to the different departments.
Then I would start my day job — luckily, I’m able to work from home. So whenever I work afternoons, I spend my mornings cooking.
We faced a lot of challenges — from raw materials to packaging
When friends and family heard about what I was doing, they wanted to donate to help the cause.
I wasn’t comfortable with this, as I wasn’t doing it to make a profit. So instead, I asked for things like eggs, flour, and physical help.
In the early days, my neighbours came over to help. But as tighter movement restrictions were implemented, they had no choice but to stay home.
At this point, I started getting personal orders from the staff, but this proved to be a challenge. Sometimes, I can’t even get enough styrofoam boxes at the shop.
Luckily I had my baker friends living nearby for help. They would lend me things like flour or oil or cookie moulds.
Why am I doing all this?
Apart from the occasional hiccup in the kitchen, I genuinely enjoyed what I was doing.
Some of my friends asked if I can support myself. They would say: “Why are you using your hard-earned money to do this, when you don’t get paid that well anyway?”
I’d reply, “I have enough to get by every month — since I have a few hundred in savings, why don’t I put it to good use?”
To be honest, I just want our frontliners, the doctors and nurses working so hard behind the scenes, the hospital staff and families waiting in the lounges, to know that we are with them.
I’m not alone. I have more than enough help from Mr Ariffin, my flatmates, neighbours and friends, so we got this.
This is our fight too. Whatever we do, it’s nothing compared to what our frontliners are going through. So I’ll pull through, as they are doing for all of us.
If you want to help, please stay home and don’t go out. Don’t overburden the system if you get infected too.
Together, we will beat this virus!
If you would like to contribute to similar efforts, you can get in touch with Savor of Life, an initiative that delivers food to medical professionals at Sungai Buloh Hospital.