Homelessness and desperation in the city

Homelessness and desperation in the city
The homeless living under a bridge.

PETALING JAYA - A destitute asking money and food from another destitute - such is the plight of the homeless.

A man, who wishes to be known as Jeffrey, encountered such a situation when a young man came to him and begged for money.

"I was sitting down in a fast food outlet when a man in his 30s approached me and asked me for money.

"I asked him if he was working but he mumbled and didn't give me a clear answer," said Jeffrey.

He added that he gave the man some bread and advised him to look for a job. As for Jeffrey, he said he found it tough to find a job because of his age.

"I had to do odd jobs, and after I turned 56, I had health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. Recently, I was told that I needed a cataract operation.

"My wife and son left me in 1996 and only my sister meets me once in a while. I don't have any financial backing. I move around a lot and I don't have a place to stay," said the 59-year-old Jeffrey.

Realising his predicament, Kechara Soup Kitchen is funding for his operation and on Monday, he will be moved to a home before going for surgery in two weeks' time.

Its project director Justin Cheah said that homelessness is a social problem and there are many factors why people become homeless.

"Many migrants come down to Kuala Lumpur to work but they can't find a job and end up on the streets. They feel that sleeping on streets is the best solution for them.

"However, when they do so, they get robbed and end up facing lots of problems. There are also some who come from poor upbringing and don't have the necessary education to help them out of the situation," he said.

Cheah said that there are also those who are drug addicts and ex-convicts and are unable to change their lives because they don't have the right guidance.

"When our volunteers talk to them, they can't seem to repent because of their anger and grudge towards others," he added.

Kechara doesn't have licensed counsellors but their volunteers take an interpersonal approach in addressing the problems faced by the homeless.

"NGOs like us will come and help them. We must find out their real problems. If they need more counselling, we will help them," said Cheah.

The grisly murder of two-year-old Siti Soffea Emelda Abdullah on May 29 had shone a light on the plight of the homeless people here. Her 32-year-old mother had been living on the streets.


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