LAST_UPDATEWed, 25 Apr 2018 9pm

Homeless Once, Man Now Seeks To Pay It Forward

PIC: The Malay MailPIC: The Malay MailKUALA LUMPUR: Having lived in his car when he couldn’t make rent 15 years ago, William Cheah has been doing his part to give back to the community because he understands what it is like to not have a home to go back to.

On Monday night, he set up tables along Jalan Imbi to give out food and drinks to the homeless and needy.

He and his friends also walked to different areas to distribute the food.

His “symbolic gesture” was in reaction to Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s announcement that soup kitchens would be barred from operating within a 2km radius from Lot 10 in the city centre.

“I was going through personal problems 15 years ago. I was working in the education line then but due to unforeseen circumstances, I was kicked out of my home,” he said.

Cheah said he was unable to rent a room because he did not have enough money to place a deposit.

“It lasted a month and it was a really trying time in my life living out of my car in front of my office. Every morning, I would wake up early so I could take a shower in the office toilet. I just carried on with my daily life. I only had enough money to buy food,” he said.

Cheah, 42, now a business owner, said he was doing his part to help those in need because he empathised with the difficulties of the urban poor in the city.

“Initially, it was only 100 packets but friends on Facebook decided to donate 100 extra packets. We also had a volunteer who was kind enough to donate 100 packets of apples to the homeless,” Cheah said of his Monday night gesture.

Cheah and his group of volunteers started from in front of Kechara Soup Kitchen in Jalan Imbi before distributing their food around the city.

“Our last stop was Kota Raya, and we managed to give out most of the food in 10 minutes,” he said.

Cheah said his gesture indicated that privately-funded groups were more than willing to step up to the cause if non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were deterred from helping the needy.

“If Kuala Lumpur City Hall decides to fine us, we are okay with it because we understand the difficulties the homeless face,” he said.

“I don’t think it is right for anyone to deny assistance to the needy when there is no available solution to support them. It’s like closing down LCCT before klia2 is fully operational.”

Cheah said any regular person could make a difference by lending a helping hand.

He also started a “movement” over a year ago through Facebook, which saw more than 1,000 of his followers donate items such as food for him to distribute to various charities.

“I would prefer to carry on with the work my friends and I have on social media platforms and not turn into a NGO any time soon,” he said.


-The Malay Mail