It took three days for thirty volunteers to build an 800 square feet house consisting of two rooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a dining hall and a garage. The house, complete with fixtures and plumbing, costs only RM50,000 and Ihsan Johor builds such houses for needy families who meet the criteria for absolutely free-of-charge.
Established in 2016, Ihsan Johor has since built comfortable homes for 36 families. Volunteers, mostly women aged between 20 to 35 with zero building experience, are guided by ‘master builders’ to build houses that Ihsan Johor’s CEO – Farrah Faridah Baptist – describes as “lego-like”. Using an integrated building system with materials imported from Sarawak, the houses are designed to stay durable, insulated and fireproof. Ihsan Johor’s President, Hj Md Razin, an architect, designs the houses himself.
Shah, Technical and Project Executive of Ihsan Johor, described the feeling of watching new homeowners unveil their new abode as the best feeling in the world. He shared that volunteers usually feel overwhelmed on the first day of work, but he assures them that their hard work will be paid off when they see the joy and smiles in the eyes of the beneficiaries. He has always been right.
A house needs a makeover every now and then. For that, with a budget of RM5,000 per house, Ihsan Johor has helped families with interior decoration as well. The beneficiaries are grateful for a new set of furniture or a fresh coat of paint or just for having people help them fix wear and tear. Ihsan Johor not only focuses on redesigning the interior of houses but also the interiors of old folks homes, orphanages, and shelter houses.
Other than building and decorating homes and centres (Rumah Ihsan), Ihsan Johor has three other clusters covering education (Ihsan Johor School), running a soup kitchen (Ihsan Johor Kitchen), and volunteering (Ihsan Johor Squad). They also have helped victims of disasters in Indonesia and continuously learn from other experienced NGOs on how they execute more of such missions. With global warming and the movement of the plates of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Ihsan Johor places importance on equipping themselves with on-the-job training and knowledge should any disaster strike locally.
Ihsan Johor was surprised to have won the Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards, and their volunteers are happy their work is recognised and identified. “We will strive to do more work to help the society,” said Farrah Baptist, a volunteer.