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PENANG, 10 June 2024 – The School of Communication at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) recently organised a student-led Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project titled "Hope for The Homeless Project” at the Pusat Transit Gelandangan (PTG) in George Town, Penang.

The project is one of the assessments for YBP230 CSR course under the supervision of Professor Dr. Jamilah Ahmad and Dr. Suriati Saad, and is aimed to enhance the well-being of PTG's homeless population by providing essential food and hygiene resources.

Additionally, it sought to promote self-sustainability among PTG residents through urban farming initiatives and to establish partnerships with local communities and businesses.

According to Suriati, "Based on our previous research on teaching CSR courses at university students, engaging the students with industry and community is a fundamental element to ensure students gain an overall understanding of the course. This is what we are trying to incorporate in this course." 

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“Our students have also developed a website for PTG to increase awareness of the services provided by PTG and to enable others such as corporate organisations, NGOs and general public to contribute to PTG,” she said, referring to the newly developed website to raise awareness about Pusat Transit Gelandangan that includes a donation form and contact details for the centre.

Assistant Operation Manager of PTG, Mohamad Nazrin Dolmat, warmly welcomed the USM students to the centre.

Nazrin stressed that homelessness is a growing problem in Malaysia, with more people forced to stay in shelters and struggle for food and survival. He expressed a particular need for food, especially meat, as it is rarely available to the homeless.

“We are thankful and grateful to have the students helped clean the shelters and set up hydroponic racks for fresh produce within the PTG area.

“This hydroponic initiative ensures that the centre has fresh produce to feed the residents, promoting health, wellness, and self-sufficiency. Additionally, the centre can sell the fresh produce to earn income,” he said.

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Meanwhile, USM Pusat Sejahtera dentist, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, provided dental care education to the homeless individuals, emphasising the importance of dental hygiene. He demonstrated the proper method to brush teeth and gums and answered questions from the audience.

“Thank you to USM for their presence. This is not the first time a university has visited, but it is the first time there has been a hydroponic programme. Thanks to USM for coming and raising awareness about homelessness,” said Nazrin at the end of the programme.

Suriati summed up by saying, “Homelessness impacts the entire community. We must unite to tackle this challenge and help those who are struggling to find a better life.”

For the record, USM students curated sponsors and organised fundraising activities to collect food and money for essential items for the homeless including toothpaste, sanitary pads, biscuits, towels, and shampoo. These items were distributed, helping the homeless meet some of their basic needs and improving their well-being.

Source text & photo: Dr. Suriati Saad, School of Communication, USM/Editing: Tan Ewe Hoe

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