In the latest phase of our partnership, 38 volunteers from GE took part in a house build project in July 2019. The aim of this project was to build a modest two-bedroom house for a family of four; Sharila, Wong Kah Wah, and their two children, in Kampung Orang Asli Gurney.
Muhammad Syafiq Bin Anuar, Production Support Leader for GE Aviation, explains why taking part was so important for him. “I wanted to experience for myself how challenging it is to build a house under the hot sun for three days, working together with people for the first time. At the same time, that opportunity to know where and how the family are living, with the difficulty of accessing even basic amenities, reminds me to be grateful for things I may sometimes take for granted.”
Like everything we do at GE, this was a project built on teamwork. Yet what is unique about this opportunity is the way it offers the chance for different groups and roles within GE to work together.
“It was empowering to have the chance to work with my colleagues and share a common goal. The team consisted of employees of various management levels and departments, and it was a grounding experience to see how leaders very easily mingled and carried out their assigned task without being bound by their work positions,” said Corina, a member of the GE Training Program currently undertaking her CTP Engineering rotation, and team leader on the flooring team for this build.
“Seeing the smiles, the pride and happiness of all the volunteers, alongside the help, encouragement and cooperation to support each other, that really mattered to me,” said Ng Chee Keong, a GE volunteer and mechanic whose usual role sees him more involved in the nuts and bolts of aircraft engines than hammer and nails required for constructing walls.
“Apart from building houses, this project initiative connects people in need with the people who are willing to help. The bonding created during that three-day build is something money can’t buy,” agreed Syafiq.
That idea of connection is at the heart of the volunteer work undertaken in partnership with Epic Homes. Through six years of commitment, GE volunteers have had the chance to work with communities throughout Malaysia, helping construct vital new homes while building their own understanding of communities the length of the country.
“Working in the city, very rarely are we exposed to the plight and struggles of those outside our own communities. Having gone through several builds, it has not only given me a chance to see the actual struggles of the Orang Asli community, but also shifted my perception and made me more aware of why they are in this situation,” continued Corina.
On a project like this, the journey that volunteers share is a valuable learning experience. But what is truly invaluable is the result at the end. The benefits that volunteers achieve from working with each other are only realised through what the family gain from their work.
“The satisfaction you feel when it is completed, and the family are crying tears of joy when we hand over the house to them, that was so rewarding,” said Syafiq. That was a point echoed by Ng, who highlighted “the best moment was the smile and tears of joy you see in the eyes when the family receive the keys to the completed house.”
That is what giving back means to families like Sharila, Wong Kah Wah, and their children. It shows that community is more than just the place we live and work. True community is about the people around us. “We live in one world, where the boundaries are set by humanity itself. Don’t close your eyes to those who need help. Go and help them with what you can,” says Syafiq.
Working together is in our DNA at GE. But what makes a project like this unique is that chance to work together across departments and roles to deliver something transformative for the people we are ultimately aiming to help. What does that mean to our volunteers? It is something special, according to Corina.
“I’m truly grateful to be part a company that supports community initiatives which completely break the barriers of giving back. I love how we get our hands dirty and look to new, unconventional ways to better our community. To those who are thinking of taking part in volunteering projects, know that you can do more than just asking why a problem is there, you can act and do something about these problems plaguing our community.”