news

These Young Malaysians Are Looking For Donors To Help Kalimantan Haze Victims

Humanity takes the lead as Care 4 Kalimantan steps in to help our 'choking' neighbours in Kalimantan.

Cover image via imgur.com

The hazardous haze from Indonesia has been a common occurrence in Malaysia for the past few decades with little done to stop the worsening problem.

Indonesia and its neighbouring countries suffer from terrible health problems yearly and the fatalities caused by the haze increase yearly.

Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan

Image via The Guardian

Indonesia is the world largest palm oil producer and to sustain the increasing demand for palm oil, there is a great need for extensive acres of lands for oil palm plantation.

To cut costs and increase profits, fires are usually intentionally lit by certain plantation owners to clear lands to make way for oil palm plantation instead of using the traditional, costly method of using bulldozers.

The dry weather, heat and the lack of rain results in all the surrounding areas of the burning peatlands to catch fire, causing a worrying amount of haze released into the air from the fires.

Image via Al Jazeera
Image via Al Jazeera

How bad is the haze in Indonesia?

Tumbang Nusa, Central Kalimantan

Image via The Guardian

While Malaysians and Singaporeans aren't expected to count their blessings that the haze in Malaysia this year isn't as bad as the last time it hit us, it is a known fact that the country that the haze originated from is facing the worst effects of the haze.

Malaysia refers to the API to measure the haze levels, while Indonesia and Singapore use the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) which has the same measurement level as API.

Since most of the fires were started from forests in Kalimantan and Sumatera, the surrounding areas of these places are hit with an alarming amount of haze, going way beyond hazardous levels, making those places almost uninhabitable.

Air Pollution Index guide

Image via Department of Environment Malaysia

As the forest fires continue to blaze, with El Nino worsening it, central Kalimantan and certain Sumatra islands have PSI levels of more than 2,000

Image via Daily Mail

The haze this year is being referred to as the worst haze to hit Southeast Asian countries in the past years, as it coincides with the El Nino phenomenon.

El Nino is an abnormal weather pattern, whereby the warming of the Pacific waters heats the air and obstructs with cloud formations and disrupts rainfall.

Thus, the hindering of cloud formations lead to problems in cloud seeding plans and reducing any chance of rainfall to calm the fires.

Any reading above 300 is considered as hazardous and has the potential to cause long term, serious health issues, mostly related to the respiratory system.

Image via Al Jazeera

What are the health issues affecting Indonesians because of the haze?

The thick blanket of haze completely immersed with dangerous air pollutants have turned these places in Indonesia into an acrid smelling, yellow-tinged cities.

The health issues that may arise from the continuous haze can cause multiple health effects including, respiratory illness, cell damage in respiratory system, decreased lung function and even accelerated aging of the lungs.

With the people being exposed to these dangerous levels of air pollution, there is a potential for some to develop diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and respiratory infections.

For the sick, elderly and the children, the haze can even be fatal as it could cause heart attacks, severe breathing difficulties, and aggravate asthma.

How is the Indonesian government planning to solve this problem?

Responding to the seriousness of the situation, the Indonesian government, yesterday, informed that they will be evacuating people from Central Kalimantan to South Kalimantan, where the air quality is reportedly better.

Palembang, Indonesia

Image via Channel News Asia

Indonesia has deployed three warships, with more on standby, to deliver face masks, tents and medical supplies to thousands of people affected by acrid haze from forest fires, an official.

Three warships have arrived in Kalimantan, Indonesia's half of Borneo and one of the worst affected regions - bringing much needed medical staff, shelters, cooking stoves and protective masks.

Indonesian military spokesman Tatang Sulaiman said the plan was to build temporary shelters with air purifiers and beds away from haze-plagued cities, but the ships could also act as evacuation centres if needed.

"Our warships are ready to evacuate residents, whether to these temporary shelters or even on board. We are prepared for that," he told AFP. "Those who will be evacuated first will be children and those suffering from chronic respiratory illnesses."

channelnewsasia.com

Palembang's city center

Image via Channel News Asia

Indonesia's disaster agency, informed yesterday, that the prolonged haze blanketing the country had cost 10 people's lives so far, with cases of respiratory illnesses increasing by the day

A tearful Indonesian woman in Palembang during a mass prayer for rain

Image via Al Jazeera

The agency estimated at least half a million people have suffered from respiratory illness since the fires started in July and 43 million people have been affected in the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.

channelnewsasia.com

So, how can we help our neighbours in Indonesia?

Heong Kian Yee, Nur Farella Najib and Jaishan Singh of Care4Kalimantan

Image via Care 4 Kalimantan

While it may seem like there is little we can do to help our neighbours in Indonesia choking on the haze, a trio of young college students proved that all it takes is a great deal of compassion and a little effort to lend a helping hand.

The Care 4 Kalimantan campaign is spearheaded by the 22-year-old Heong Kian Kee representing the Rotaract Club of Bangsar and aided by his friends, Nur Farella Najib and Jaishin Singh under the Rotary International District 3300 Malaysia.

The aim of the campaign is to raise donations in the form of cash or medical items from the public for the people in the haze engulfed areas of Kalimantan.

Care 4 Kalimantan is organised in collaboration with Indonesia's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Kalimantan and Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia

These two Indonesian organisations will be helping the Care 4 Kalimantan team to distribute the safety items to the people.

The items that you can donate for this cause are; N95 masks, eye drops and adult safety goggles.

Should you wish to make cash donations, you can bank in the funds directly into the Rotaract Club of Bangsar's CIMB Bank account (AC No: 1-402-015-9497000).

Quick to offer their support to Care 4 Kalimantan, 3M Malaysia, a leading industrial and safety products creator, will be donating 2400 pieces of N95 masks and 720 pieces of safety goggles worth RM12,956 to Indonesia

3M's 8210 N95 masks

Image via CSSi

3M's 1621 safety goggles

Image via Ali Express/3M

Meanwhile, reports by various news sites confirmed that most people living in these hazardous areas in Kalimantan are not fully aware of the dangers of haze

Students travelling by an open wooden boat to Palembang amidst a thick blanket of haze

Image via Asia One

Thus, the Care 4 Kalimantan teams have decided to send a team of 10 volunteers to villages and rural areas in Kalimantan where the less fortunate are not completely aware of the of haze and its effects on the human body.

A portion of the funds from the donation will be used to aid the team to educate the forgotten people living in haze-laden towns of Indonesia.

Kian Kee stressed that once they have a substantial amount of masks, goggles and eye drops, a small team including himself will be formed and help will be sent over right away.


The Care 4 Kalimantan team is also running a campaign to spread awareness about the terrible haze in Indonesia

Care 4 Kalimantan's social media campaign

Image via Care 4 Kalimantan/Facebook

A lot of attention has been channeled to the nature and wildlife being destroyed by the minute due to the forest fires, while the masses are still unaware of the terrible conditions the people in Indonesia are forced to live with because of the haze.

So, if you wish to be a part of the cause determined to educate the people, this is how you can do so:

Meanwhile, here are some guidelines you can follow to protect yourself against the worsening haze here:

However, the fine particles in the hazy air can still cause many health problems. If you find yourself with a case of sore throat, try there home remedies for a quick cure:

While most of us are focusing on helping the haze victims in Indonesia, this Malaysian man, instead, sues the Indonesian government for RM429 million over the haze issue: