- Published on Monday, 14 July 2014 20:42
KUALA LUMPUR: Dirty and filthy, that is how some in the society view the homeless and the destitute loitering aimlessly in the city.
However, there are also others in the society who are ready to lend a helping hand to cater for the immediate needs of this group of people without expecting anything in return.
They sacrifice many hours of the day distributing food and provide assistance to this unfortunate group. Many of these volunteers come from non-governmental organisations (NGO) and they are committed in helping the homeless and the destitute.
Thus there are those who help man the soup kitchens for the homeless or help this people in getting jobs.
While the volunteers may not be able to end their homeless misery, apart from food, they provide the homeless people a sense of belonging to the community.
Genuine interest the motivating factor
As for a volunteer, Siti Nur Sarah Salleh, 23, volunteerism is part of the social responsibility for Malaysians.
“There is nothing to lose by volunteering to help the people. A volunteer has to be sincere in helping and has to be ready to help any person in need of help,” said the government servant.
She added that, the deep interest in helping others is something born out of her own concern for others and she never expected something in return.
However, Siti Nur Sarah hoped that the contribution of volunteers would be appreciated by the government as this would serve as an encouragement for other to volunteer.
“The support from the government will provide us some recognition and boost the spirit of volunteerism, and thus encourage more youngsters to participate,” he said.
The role of counsellors
The Chairperson of Volunteer Kuala Lumpur (VKL) Norsaifullah Ramada, said some of those who were homeless were actually employed yet chose not to return home for some reasons.
Norsaifullah added that, after going to the ground and meeting the homeless people he and fellow volunteers learnt that many refused to return home due to family problems or the home environment was not conducive.
“Thus looking at this problem, the participation of counsellors in volunteer work can prove to be helpful.
“So far the approach has been providing food and shelter, and the services of the counsellor will help to get into their hearts and the plight of the homeless,” he said.
Norsaifullah said through this approach, the information received by counsellors could be processed in identifying the other causes leading to homelessness.
It is undeniable that Malaysians are a caring lot and sensitive on humanities related issues but Norsaifullah cautioned that the Malaysian altruism were mostly seasonal.
Taking the Ramadan now for an example, he said: “Many pay alms and appear earnest in helping others but once the fasting month is over it is difficult to find sponsors or anyone willing to help.”
“And at present people are coming forward to donate for the people affected by the Gaza bloodshed, but the problem is an ongoing one so why only now one wants to help,” he asked adding that the fate of the Rohingya’s in Mayanmar also calls for help.
Discussing with NGOs
Meanwhile, on the soup kitchens issue in the capital city, the President Pertubuhan Kembara Amal (PEKA) Khir Ariffin said it was only proper that the government and NGOs sit down together to find a beneficial solution for both sides.
“Yes, the begging scenario will taint the image of the national capital; but the homeless have no choice and it is neither their choice ending up like this.
“They cannot be faulted, as some come to the city in search of work and cannot afford to rent a place and take an easy way out by putting up for the night on the five foot ways,” said Khir who has has been active in volunteer work since four years ago.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had visited the soup kitchens in the Bukit Bintang area lately and promised to setup a place for the homeless in the city within the next six months.