The Nasi Lemak Project: Effort to assist Malaysians in need

By Ahmad Hasif Ahmad Hilmi

Often we heard about institutions or organisations throughout the world have been established with one major objective, which is to help needy people in their country. With a different approach, a non-profit organisation called The Nasi Lemak Project (TNLP) was set up in March 2013 to capture the attention of Malaysians with its goals and objectives.  The organisation was named after nasi lemak, a local food that symbolises such identity to contribute to the cause of the Malaysian community, especially for the  needy people in the urban areas of Kuala Lumpur.

The Project (TNLP) was first started by Mastura bt Mohd Rashid, a Human Sciences student of IIUM who specialised in History and Civilisation. This organisation has also received sponsorship from the Embassy of the United States of America. Although it is not a body under IIUM, the university has become the platform to be treaded as majority of members of this organisation are IIUM students.

According to the TNLP’s programme manager,  Muhammad Zariff Fahmie, the difference between this organisation and other non-profit organisation lies in its vision and mission. Besides, this organisation is fully controlled by individuals, among who are mainly university students. TNLP holds its own vision and mission of pooling all efforts to help the homeless and the urban poor. The programmes held by the organisation has helped to lessen the burden of these needy people and helped the homeless out of poverty.

This non-profit organisation has also helped the urban poor by giving free tuition to the children involved. ‘With full expectations of providing the tuition class and free lessons, the children can help their families out of poverty,” Zariff told an interview during a programme called ‘Feed the Homeless’ organised by TNLP at Chow Kit Road, Kuala Lumpur.

Asked about the effectiveness of the programmes, Zariff added by saying that this project took a long period of time and efforts, especially for the homeless individuals.

This organisation can only serve as a mediator on matters such as helping family members to get an appropriate job, finding as well as sending home of the elderly. The most significant programme of the organisation which is found effective is providing free tuition. It is because members of TNLP can evaluate the performance of each student’s education and it is proven that many of them have obtained excellent results in their studies.

In addition, when we talk about a good organisation, we won’t miss out from having to face challenges and obstacles. As a programme manager of this organisation, Zariff said that there were several obstacles and challenges in conducting this project. As members are all university students, it is a bit crucial to manage the time well between studies and handling of this organisation. All of TNLP committee members have their own commitment to education and other volunteers also have the same responsibility.

Therefore, time allocation and management is important to handle this organisation. On top of that, another crucial challenge is financial constraints, where all members are still students and do not have the sources of income. Hence, what TNLP has done is to look for donations from the public who show concerns with the organisation’s efforts to help the needy.

TNLP was proud of its achievement when the United States of America Embassy in Kuala Lumpur proudly announced that the founder of this non-profit organisation, Mastura M. Rashid, was the winner of the prestigious Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for her effort to assist and feed the homeless. She was a former student of IIUM.

‘I can see TNLP in five years to come as a NGO capable of moving itself to generate economic growth as well as to have its own headquarters to continue to help the homeless and the urban poor,’ said Zariff at the end of the interview.


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