Jared Leto with Habitat for Humanity in Malaysia
Only 2 weeks into this job & already I've had the honour to meet a Hollywood celebrity in Jared Leto, lead singer of the band 30 Seconds to Mars. They are no strangers to Habitat for Humanity's work. In June, the band joined forces with Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity to work on a home being repaired and renovated through the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles' "A Brush With Kindness" programme. In advance of the build, the band organized an auction of "build slots" to give fans the opportunity to volunteer alongside them and their family and friends. In less than a week, six extra workers were enlisted and over $10,000.00 was raised to fund additional Habitat for Humanity projects.
Jared Leto was in KL town with manager Jonathan Kalter, having just co-hosted the MTV Asia Awards in Genting Highlands. We (Julia, Rose, my brother Emmanuel & myself) met them at Hilton Sentral at about 3.30pm, Sunday, 3 August 2008. We sat at the lobby, & took some time to explain to them the Malaysian need & what HFH Malaysia desires to do. Then, we brought them to Kampung Padang Balang, Sentul, to visit a potential Habitat build.
The family we visited consists of a single mother, Puan Noridah & her two children. The 50 year old house bears a lot of the traditional Malay house's elements - built with wood, raised on stilts, plenty of windows - something that was refreshing to Jared & Jonathan. Unfortunately, the structure of the house has been badly affected by termites, especially the pillars. & with the years of deterioration, the house wasn't safe anymore. Personally I was worried that the house would not be able to hold the weight of the many people who were visiting the house.
"I can tell that she has a lot of perseverance & tenacity. She has held this house literally by her commitment, " said Jared, after examining the situation of the house, " Certainly something needs to happen. She's in dire need."
He further commented, "There's something very charming about the house. It's small & decaying. but it's really nice.... and it's funny because you'll see other houses that are bigger and nicer, & they don't include any of those elements (that this house has), and they don't have a feeling of warmth."
After the house visit, the villagers treated us with rambutan & mangosteen. They were about to offer durian, but Jared hasn't acquired a taste of that yet. Later, we also were invited to visit a house that has just hosted a kenduri. We missed the ceremony, but overall I think that Jared & Jonathan had quite an experience of the Malay culture. The newly weds & their families were very excited to have a superstar come to the 'after-party' too. As the villagers of Kampung Padang Balang sent Jared Leto away with a bag of fruits & the buah tangan from the wedding, one of them shouted, "Jared, don't forget my kampung. Kampung Padang Balang!!".
Overall I thought it was a great experience for everyone involved. Personally I am so grateful to get to know a famous someone who presented himself with humility & concern for a fellow human being. Hopefully, through Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity, more celebrities will come to Malaysia.