The country of Malaysia consists of West Malaysia on the Malaysian peninsula, and East Malaysia, with the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the north side of the island of Borneo. Malaysia is unique in that there is little to fear from either earthquakes or storms. Even the devastating tsunami of December 2004 originating just west of Indonesia caused relatively minor damage and the loss of less than 60 lives. But there are ongoing needs in the country, and humanitarian aid missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have done much good in finding those needs and providing aid through The Church of Jesus Christ’s ongoing humanitarian efforts.
In early 2012 LDS senior Mormon missionaries, Kenneth and Gloria Larson, traveled to Tawau, Sabah, East Malaysia, where they have three current Humanitarian Projects. They are in the process of completing a vision project with the Rotary Club of Tawau, where they have distributed about 1500 pairs of eyeglasses to poor school children who live in villages in and around Tawau. They have also provided several pieces of new optical equipment which are portable and can be used for eye exams in these remote villages. They worked closely with Dr. Adjit who is the only ophthalmologist in the Tawau area, and a member of the Rotary Club, the partnering organization.
The Church of Jesus Christ is also working on a large water project with the Rotary Club of Tawau as its partner. This charitable project will supply clean water to a village of about 4,500 people. This village has a source of fresh spring water, but no way of supplying the village. The government built a small, unusable dam for them, but still no way of getting the water to the people. LDS Charities, in partnership with the Rotary Club, has built a bigger, better dam with two 10,000 liter storage tanks, a solar powered generator to pump the water to the storage tanks, and all new PVC pipes to take the water to the homes. The total cost for LDS Charities is $125,000-$150,000, all of it donated by caring Mormons and their friends of other faiths.
As part of the ongoing “wheel chair initiative” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, partnering in this case with Cheshire Homes and the Red Crescent Society, LDS Charities has donated 620 wheelchairs to Kota Kinabalu this year. Jennifer Liew of Cheshire Homes in Sabah has helped to distribute these chairs in Sandakan and Tawau. Red Crescent Society is helping to distribute these chairs in Tawau. The partnering local organizations must assure that recipients have been properly assessed for the correct size of the wheel chairs they receive, and are responsible to train recipients how to care for and use the chairs. For this, the partnering organizations receive training from LDS Humanitarian Aid missionaries.
With many disasters and severe weather incidents, 2011 was an active year for Mormons’ church service around the world.
The earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan was the worst disaster of the year, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent immediate aid and still continues to help. The LDS Church provided more than 250 tons of supplies, food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene items, clothing and fuel. Church-sponsored volunteers numbering over 20,000 have donated 175,000 hours of service in Japan. Church Humanitarian Services has worked with and continues to donate equipment and supplies to 20 of 54 fishing co-ops wiped out by the disaster. Latter-day Saints within Japan mobilized to help their stricken neighbors. Fifty-two Mormon meetinghouses were also damaged and have since been repaired.
Other disasters struck different parts of the world, which experienced flooding, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes and a hurricane (Irene). They occurred in Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Brazil and the Philippines, as well as the Midwest and southern United States. Latter-day Saints in each of these areas also donated their time and efforts. “Mormon Helping Hands” is the name of groups of Mormons gathered to help in relief efforts on the ground. They can mobilize locally or travel, sometimes at their own expense.
In Germany, 9,000 Latter-day Saints and their neighbors worked side-by-side to donate 34,000 hours in support of children battling cancer. (Read about other Mormon Helping Hands projects.)
2011 was the tenth anniversary of the formation of the Perpetual Education Fund, funded by donations from Latter-day Saints. This fund helps with schooling expenses for returned-missionaries from impoverished countries. The money is loaned to them, so they can afford advanced education. The loan is paid back as they join the work force, and then loaned to the next worthy young person. Thousands have achieved better employment through this program since its inception.