Thursday, May 19, 2022

The two friends who closed shop for a month to help Selangor flood victims

Muhammad Saiful Bahari and Syarul Nizam Wahab travelled across the state border from Perak and have been washing cars in a mosque compound since late December.

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Silence fills the space at the Bandar Bukit Raja Mosque in Klang, Selangor.

Even before it was opened to the public for religious activities, the building provided shelter to hundreds of flood victims following the deluge that hit many areas in the state last month, leaving widespread destruction in its wake.

Now, though, the flood victims have returned home to deal with the aftermath of the torrents and to salvage what they can of their waterlogged belongings.

Of the many that came, only two remain.

Muhammad Saiful Bahari and Syarul Nizam Wahab have been staying in the mosque compound since late December. But unlike the others who came seeking shelter, they came to do what they could to help.

Saiful hangs car carpets out to dry on folding tables in the mosque compound.

Back in their home town in Ipoh, Perak, the two friends ran a car wash centre. When they heard of the floods that had left many areas in Selangor inundated, they decided to head across the border to see what they could do.

“We have been living in the mosque compound since Dec 28,” Saiful told MalaysiaNow. “From here, we have been helping flood victims wash their cars in the parking lot.”

When they first came to Selangor, they considered a number of locations when deciding where to set up camp.

“We received a lot of suggestions, but we ended up here because the mosque has a lot of space and its management agreed to let us do this,” Saiful said.

The huge floods that hit the peninsula in December left Selangor and the Klang Valley particularly affected, with tens of thousands forced to evacuate their homes.

The severity of the floods caught many off guard, including the authorities who were accused of being slow in sending aid.

Saiful blows air through a hose to dry the components of a car that he and Syarul have just finished cleaning.

But it was also the gravity of the situation which saw volunteers like Saiful and Syarul leaving the comfort of their own homes to offer their assistance wherever possible.

Saiful said his wife had made no protest when he told her that he was going to Selangor for a month to help flood victims. On the contrary, she travels from Ipoh every weekend to help him.

“She understands that this was beyond anyone’s expectations,” he said. “And so many were affected by the floods.”

He said many flood victims were having a hard time finding a workshop as too many vehicles had sustained damage. Some workshops also provide only full restoration services which makes things difficult for those who cannot afford it.

Saiful, who turns 31 this year, did not think twice about his decision to close his car wash centre in Ipoh for a month in order to help in Selangor.

Upon his arrival in Selangor, he sourced four large tents which he set up in the parking lot of the mosque. The cleaning equipment he brought himself from Ipoh.

Syarul and Saiful use vacuum cleaners and other equipment to clean out the car parts of waterlogged vehicles.

So far, he has cleaned more than 30 cars for free. He initially intended to offer full restoration services as well, but due to the surge in demand and a lack of staff, he was forced to concentrate only on internal and external cleaning.

He chooses car owners who are not affordable and who need to use their vehicles again as quickly as possible.

“We ask the owners what the main problem is, then we check and dismantle whatever is damaged.

“After we clean it out, we dry it. We check everything again and reassemble the parts before returning the car to the owner,” he said.

For Syarul, who has worked with Saiful for four years, the trickiest part is dealing with dashboards which are filled with wires.

“Fabric cushions are also difficult to get completely clean,” he said.

Like Saiful, Syarul is also in Selangor with his family’s blessings.

While they have lost a month’s worth of revenue from their car wash centre back home, they are satisfied that they have done their part to help those affected by the floods.

“I have been in business for five years now,” Saiful said. “During that entire time, I never once did anything out of charity.

“Now we have been helping people for a month, and for me, there have been no problems,” he added, thanking those who have helped them by donating money and food.

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