Working towards a more inclusive, compassionate and effective society

A man who has laboured for long years in the field of charity and welfare was finally recognized by society.

Apr 15, 2016

By Vincent D’Silva
A man who has laboured for long years in the field of charity and welfare was finally recognized by society. This man has given a whole new definition to the word ‘charity.’

James Ho’s vast contributions to the needy and the handicapped gained recognition when he was awarded the “2nd Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Award” (IMSHA) by Iskandar Malaysia, thus becoming the first Catholic in the state to obtain the award.

The award was presented to James recently for his selfless contributions to the community. He went beyond the call of duty to help the poor, the needy, the handicapped, the sick and the dying. The award publicly thanks unsung heroes for their work amongst the communities.

IMSHA identifies, recognizes and celebrates with individuals, organizations and social movements that have contributed to society through impactful and meaningful community service. It is also envisioned as the region’s premier community service award to publicly thank social workers.

Ho, 63, was awarded the Poverty & Hunger Relief and Disaster Relief awards by IMSHA at a dinner awards presentation ceremony which was graced by Datuk Nur Jazlan bin Mohamed, the Deputy Home Affairs Minister.

Ho, who was among twelve people to receive the awards, said, “I am not worthy of this award as I am just doing what some would do. Not everyone is so lucky, so you need to stretch out your hands for these unlucky ones.”

He said the award came as a surprise as the nomination and shortlisting process was done anonymously, he said, adding, “I am honoured to have been awarded for my services and hope many others will follow as the field requires a lot of dedicated people.”

Day in and day out, he works with the poor, the elderly, even with the incarcerated and those with disabilities, both physical and mental. The hours are long and unpredictable. The work is hard, tense, occasionally dangerous and mostly in the shadow of the limelight.

Ho doesn’t get paid for his work and his only obvious reason is the motivation to help people in need and provide them with what others can’t offer.

“How often do we take out money from our pocket to give someone who is needy? Would you help if someone you didn’t know came to you and asked for financial aid? Maybe not, or at least you might think twice before giving away even a fifty ringgit note,” James asked.

Ho said we sometimes go to an NGO and donate some money or stuff and feel content that we have done our share of good deeds. We feel good about ourselves and move on with our lives.

He laments that many feel, that by giving a little in cash or kind, they have completed their task. This is only a pin drop in the ocean. What is needed is getting on the ground and being there with these poor, sick and handicapped people. They not only need money but the love, care and touch.

But there are a few people, very few, who literally dedicate their lives to helping the needy — ‘James Ho’ is one such person.

He works as a general manager in a company but has dedicated his life to helping the poor and needy.

His organization, Suria Charitable Foundation of Johor Bahru in which he was the former chairman and founder has made inroads to estates, villages and even remote areas to distribute food, and provide subsidies, as well as assisting the aged in welfare homes. His charitable foundation helps to reach out to the poor, sick and underprivileged. The organization raises money and material from those willing to donate and distributes them to those who need it.

Over the years, Ho, who is the secretary of the organization concurrently, says they are now even providing subsidies for HIV/AIDS patients, the blind, paralysed victims, dialysis patients, the mentally retarded, children with Down’s Syndrome, stroke victims, paralysis patients, cancer victims, the aged and jobless, orphans, diabetes patients, and single parents.

“We cannot sustain ourselves unless we contribute to the society in some way or the other. I strongly feel if every person does his bit towards social good, there will be some change,” he says.

His work with social service came when he was involved in church work. He was very much involved in assisting various churches in Johor Bahru with the building fund, donation drives and charity runs.

Speaking in jest, Ho said, “I do this neither to ask for any reward or a pat on my back but will continue my task till the very last of my breath.”

He said the time has come for us to raise awareness on the need for all to share the responsibility of working towards a more inclusive, compassionate and effective society.

“It is hoped that more and more people out there become socially conscious and play a greater role in church and society at large in providing assistance to the not so lucky,” he stressed.

“There is no respect for others without love and humility in one’s self,” he added.

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