Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kechara Soup Kitchen ~ my first visit

After delaying for a long time, my procrastination energy ran out and i finally made my way to KSK to volunteer my time! I departed early to find the location. For once, I think I just want to be the follower rather than the organiser! Location of the place is at Jalan Barat off Jalan Imbi, so shouldnt be too hard to find.

There were 5 new faces including me this week, and we were shown the KSK introduction DVD by Kwok Wai while waiting for the rest to arrive. We were told to arrive at 8pm to listen to the briefing for the first timer. Once the briefing is completed, we went to the ground floor for a short presentation on KSK objectives and mission by Karen. Part of the rule is not to take photograph of the homeless people, hence this entry will be a text only entry! :) Listening the street experience from Wong and Karen is an eye opener!

During that time, more volunteers arrived and food packs were assigned and allocated as per location. For this weekend, the total food pack distributed was for 500 pax, 150 packs fewer than the week before. Each feeding pack consist of 1 pack of vegetarian rice, 2 pack of biscuits, 1 orange, 1 loaf of bread and 1 bottle of mineral water.The place was full of bread, donated by Hi-5 and you can imagine there are 500 loaves of it and there are also boxes of IKO biscuits. This week's food was lesser by 150 due to lack of response the week earlier. There are also walk-in 'customer' and 40 packs were allocated for them. There are total of 12 locations to distribute and once the food are correctly allocated, its loaded up to the cars.

I noticed that there are a lot of young volunteers and made me feel bit old (!). Most of them are quiet familiar with the activities of the night and are aware of their location of distribution well. I was assigned to distribute at Jalan Tun Perak, with 3 veterans, Johnny & Elise and Jane who have been doing this for 2 years. So, for once, I just want to follow the lead... ;) We have a briefing at 1030pm for the night's activity and instructions were given on do's and dont's of the night feeding.

Once its done, we departed at 11pm and arrived at our first drop off point, a closed down Chinese restaurant (Golden Palace Restaurant) along Jalan Pudu. Here we gave 2 feeding packs to a homeless person but didnt see his partner. While we were there, the man was busy making his 'bed' on the floor with cardboards and newspapers...and next door is the Swiss Garden hotel....There were supposed to be more people here at this drop off point, but due to recent road resurfacing, most of them were not there as the building is also under renovation. We proceed further down the road to an abandoned building after the Magnum head office.

Here, the crowd was expecting us and approach us once they saw the familiar faces of Johnny and Elies. As Elise gave them their rice and biscuits pack, I distributed loaves of bread, biscuits and water from my car. There were about 15 people here at this point. Receipients were mostly Indians and Chinese, while I do see one or two Malays as well. Some of them are well dressed in long sleeve and long pants, and I bet no one will know that they are homeless if you pass by them during the day. A few were grateful, thanking and shaking our hands and even though it is just a simple feeding pack for most of us, but for them, it could just be their first meal.

The next pit stop was after Pudu Raya station before the hotel. Over here, we distributed about 10 packs of food before proceed to the next stop, which is the bus stop stand in front of Menara Maybank. We distributed to about 6 person here, and at this location, Johnny managed to request a walker from KSK to be given to a homeless man with diabetic based on his last week visit. He was sleeping on the bus stop when we arrived and there were 3 other people sleeping there as well. As we leave the food to them, Johnny woke up Chong and he responded to him. He sounds happy and cheerful to see us and Johnny told him about the walker. He tried using the walker and was very happy with it. Our concern was it just might be stolen.

The next stop was the old pre-war shop lots behind Menara Maybank, opposite the backpackers hotel. It came to me as a surprised, as I passed by the place most of the time. We packed about 5 packs of food, knocked on the blue sliding metal door. I was shocked to see the inner part of the ground floor, as it has 4 rooms on each side, and the room size is about size of an office cubicle! The main person here is Raju, which speaks Cantonese fluently, and seems that he is incharge of taking care of the people here. I was told he is taking care of a old blind person. As they heard Raju called them, most of them came down to take their food package.

The final stop was the somewhere further after 7-11 along Jalan Pudu, where we stopped by and gave the food pack to a guy, who just ignored Elise when she hand over the food. Elise just leave the food beside him and we went further down the road and gave the last of the food items to 2 homeless.

It took us an hour to finish distributing the food, and we say good bye to each other and departed home. As I passed by Menara Maybank bus stop from the other side of the road, I noticed that Chong was testing out his walker and all I could remember was his swollen legs and his blue bag which he used as a pillow. :(

It was 1215am as I left KL, and seeing the hordes of people doing their Hari Raya shopping along Jalan Tun Perak/OCBC, the thought of homeless people who has nothing at all are just 200 meters away. Somehow, it just doesnt feel right. While we sleep in our comfortable bed tonight, within the security of our homes, there are many out there does not and their bed could be either the the bus stop or just the floor outside a building. ;(

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