A few weeks back I wrote and published a blog post on a topic called the No Spend Challenge. At that time, I thought heck, I should write a topic related to finances ( a maiden topic in my blog), since the current pandemic have reduced the income of many and it may be a good idea to encourage others to implement some habitual changes to take control of their spending.
But, as I pondered with unease after I published that post, I realized that during this same period of time there are many people who are small business owners, street vendors or restaurateurs who are relying on the rest of population to support their businesses and provide some income to sustain themselves and their workers. There is a malay idiom, that goes like below.
‘Kais pagi makan pagi, kais petang makan petang.’
This translates to someone (usually a poor person) who’s daily income is only sufficient to sustain him/herself and their family for that day only.
In the current pandemic and the movement control order re-instated, non-essential business owners are not allowed to operate, while essential business such those in food services, include restaurants, food courts, sundry shops and small street vendors (selling food/fruits/vegetables etc.) are only allowed to operate within the daily allocated time and to close by before 8pm at night. We have seen many small businesses close down, private schools retrenching teachers, and observed increase in the people going around asking (begging) for money, even receiving calls from privately funded care homes requesting for monetary help. It makes my heart sink when I think of this, and this is the feeling I get every time the government announces a lockdown. On one hand, yes it is important that we need to control and reduce the spread of Covid cases, but at the same time we need to empathize with these small vendors. The one off payments by the government will not be able to sustain them and their household for weeks and months of lockdown.
For those of us who still have a stable job and employer, with our monthly salary unaffected, if we can afford to spend or give , please patronage these small vendors (with physical distancing of course). This is not the time to be nit picky, talking about how this sellers nasi lemak or char kuay tiaw is not as good compared to that other shop, or how I could save more MYR1.00 or MYR2.00 if I bought from that other shop versus this small vendor. The aim is not to get the best deals or best food for a bargain.
Basically, it is not about you this time around, it is about how you can contribute or support a local flailing business or vendor. It is a time to be generous, because they need us, even if its a small item from these vendors, if you can afford with minimal impact to yourselves, please do so. See how you can support this person and by doing so we are also supporting their family (who we do not see, they may have children or elderly parents to care for). Seek out the Pak Cik selling kueh at the side of the road, or the Aunty selling rojak at the food court.
This way, we can reduce some of the burden for these folks and help them weather through this (un-ending and apparently ineffective) lockdown. When this season passes (and it will pass, eventually), then, you can consider the No Spend Challenge. But right now, seek out some people who you can be generous to and give some support to local businesses.
Thanks for reading, and be kind.