Though the current situation has undoubtedly affected us all, some have been impacted more than others
With many losing their jobs, unable to pay rent, or struggling to put food on the table, it has truly been a difficult and challenging time. Through numerous food donation and charity initiatives, Malaysians have been stepping up and banding together to help those in need.
Despite facing struggles of their own, Merga Restaurant, owned and run by Paramesvary and her family, has been helping those in need by distributing free meals
Merga Restaurant is a well-known eatery in Klang that has been operating for almost 28 years. They serve a myriad of Indian delicacies, from delicious, mouth-watering curries to traditional vegetarian dishes.
Speaking to SAYS, Yuvaraj, who is Paramesvary's son, shared that his grandfather originally ran the restaurant. It was then handed over to his parents, who now run it with their children.
Before taking over the restaurant, Paramesvary and her husband owned a separate catering business in which she whipped up delicious and healthy home-cooked Indian food, and it became a hit among Klang residents.
Over the years, many raved about the delicacies they simply couldn't get enough of, especially since Merga Restaurant's food tastes so homely and warm.
"Our food is special 'cause it's made by my mum, exactly like home-cooked food," Yuvaraj shared.
Throughout the MCO, Paramesvary and her family saw how Malaysians were struggling, from businesses forced to close down to many employees losing their jobs
In fact, Yuvaraj shared that the people his family had come to know over their 28 years of running Merga Restaurant were also impacted.
Wanting to make a difference in the community, Paramesvary and her family made the life-changing decision to help those in need by doing what they know best – preparing meals for the homeless and those struggling financially.
On average, the family distributes almost 200 packs daily, which means they have to start prepping the day before
When asked about what kinds of food they usually prepare, Yuvaraj shared that it differs every day, spanning vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals like spicy nasi lemak and chicken peratal.
From planning the menu to doing groceries and prepping ingredients, the family does everything to ensure that those receiving their meals get a substantial portion to fill them up.
"We plan what menu we're gonna do and make sure we have all the ingredients. By 8am the next morning, my mom and her helpers will start cooking. All food will be ready to pack by 10.30am," said Yuvaraj.
Once the packing is done, the family will begin personally distributing the meals to those in need, who usually start dropping by the restaurant at around 11.30am.
While many visit the restaurant to collect their lunch meals, there are plenty who are not able to do so. Completely aware of this issue, Paramesvary and her family also deliver the food packs to old folks homes and people with disabilities.
In addition to distributing free meals, the family is also still operating their restaurant on a daily basis to keep it afloat, which is by no means an easy task at all
The implementation of the MCO definitely took a toll on Merga Restaurant as well. With restricted dine-ins and people encouraged to stay at home, Paramesvary noticed a big drop in the restaurant's orders.
"We faced a downturn in business by almost 70%," Yuvaraj shared with SAYS.
To ensure that they pull through, Merga Restaurant turned to doing food delivery as well, so as to supplement their takeaways.
Not only was it important to Paramesvary to keep the family business running, but she also required adequate income to be able to continue helping out the less fortunate. By offering delivery services, the restaurant managed to make ends meet and continue its operations.
Despite that, the family still has to worry about the costs of distributing food every day
It usually costs them about RM400 to distribute 120 packs of vegetarian food, and the cost is a little higher for non-vegetarian food. This means that a week of distribution costs would total up to at least RM2,800.
Additionally, as demand for their free food continued to increase, Paramesvary and her family had to readjust their finances and expenditures accordingly. There were even times when they ran out of meals to distribute in less than an hour, forcing the family to end their initiative for the day.
Thankfully, as their free meals initiative has attracted public attention, many people approached the restaurant to help out by contributing financially
This allowed Merga Restaurant to continue reaching out to those who were struggling during the MCO.
With financial help from various people, Paramesvary and her family get to prepare more meals to distribute. On some days, they are even able to distribute up to 620 meals!
Thanks to the contributions from sponsors and the restaurant earning enough to continue operating, the family is still providing meals to those in need today, and aims to keep doing so for as long as they can.
When asked about what keeps them going, Yuvaraj shared that it is when people thank them for doing such good work and making a difference to the community
"When they receive their meals, their faces brighten immediately. Plus, they always wish us sincerely. It's heartwarming moments like these that let us continue doing what we do.
"We hope to keep developing and open a foundation to serve the needy," he said.
SAYS would also like to share that Paramesvary's son, Mr Nagalingam, recently passed away. We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Parasmesvary, Yuvaraj, and their family. May the family find strength and comfort during this difficult time. May Mr Nagalingam rest in peace.
Paramesvary and her family are just some of the inspiring Malaysians who have been featured in Tenaga Nasional Berhard (TNB)'s heartfelt Hari Kebangsaan film, titled Raikan Malaysia Kita.
Watch it below:
Through unique illustrations, the film depicts the stories of four Malaysians who have tried their best to help others get through these difficult times.
Besides Paramesvary and her family, the film features the following people:
- Ridzuan Jamal: An entrepreneur who helps unemployed Malaysians earn an income by selling RM1 buns
- Ong Yong Xuan: A 20-year-old self-taught coder who created JomStudy, a revision app to help SPM students study more efficiently
- Mama Pinky: A beauty consultant who took up a second job as a clown in order to earn money to feed and provide medical aid to stray cats
Plus, TNB also wants you to share more uplifting Malaysian stories! If you know of any, share them on social media using the #RaikanMalaysiaKita hashtag.
These stories will then be converted into micro-stories and featured on TNB's Instagram stories and feed on Malaysia Day!
By sharing the stories of inspiring ordinary Malaysians, TNB wants to encourage and uplift everyone's spirits during these difficult times
Things are hard now, but it's important not to give up, and also to do our best to help each other in whatever way we can. Even something small can go a long way. By working together and inspiring each other, we'll make it through this and head towards better times. <3
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