Malaysian orphanage swamped with food after fake viral message

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Flooded with food donations, orphanage now needs school van.
Ms Anita and the orphanage's children showing the food donations the orphanage received. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BUKIT MERTAJAM (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A fake viral message alleging that an orphanage was unable to feed its children for months did the non-profit home good, though well-wishers sent them so much food that they are now finding it difficult to handle.

Pusat Jagaan Sinar Ceria caretaker V. Anita, 25, said she had to answer more than 400 calls from as far as Singapore and the Prime Minister's Department over the past four days, seeking to clarify the matter.

"The WhatsApp message is not true as it also alleged that we are the poorest in the state. The orphans have been eating KFC twice a week," she said, referring to the fast food chain.

Ms Anita added that they had so much food donated that the home's three refrigerators were now filled to the brim.

"We also received rice, potatoes and onions, numerous hampers, household items, clothes and snacks," she said.

"We appreciate the donation very much but handling the huge amount of supply, dropped off by donors, has become a major task for the volunteers and children to manage."

Some of the donated food would be shared with other welfare homes and orphanages, she said.

"I believe the message could have been posted by visitors who came in the past. What we really need is a van to take the children to school," Ms Anita added.

"We have 22 children, aged between six months and 17 (years), with eight in primary school and seven in kindergarten. The school bus fare for them adds up to RM600 (S$201) a month," she said.

"We only have a Perodua Kancil. The secondary (school) students have to walk."

Ms Anita said the home's monthly expenses came up to about RM7,000, including allowances for four full-time volunteers, rent for two single-storey houses as well as medical and utility bills.

Her grandmother G. Pakiam, 76, started the home 14 years ago.

Madam Pakiam voiced her unhappiness over the viral message, which alleged that she was bedridden and that the children were neglected.

"I am not. My right leg is recovering following a surgery, and I am healthy," she said.

A check by The Star found the children to be in a joyful mood, running around the numerous piles of donated items.

Having just finished some donated burgers for lunch, there were enough left for dinner, too.

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