Sunday, January 15, 2012

A night at Kechara Soup Kitchen

So I finally went ahead to volunteer at the soup kitchen :D When I woke up today, i was all jittery and nervous and excited all at the same time.

Jittery and nervous coz i was having some self doubt. What if we meet some really aggressive homeless people? or psychos? what if i meet those really heart wrenching ones? can i take it? am i strong enough mentally?

Excited coz I am gonna hands on helping other less fortunates and it's a whole new scene to me! :D

I am glad i went :D

Ah Woey came to pick me at around 5.11pm. Our plan was to have early dinner at Sangeetha's at Lebuh Ampang before heading down to Kechara.

Sangeetha's is a pricey indian vegetarian restaurant. pretty good :D we ordered... er... i forgotten what did ah Woey ordered. I ordered paper tosai with a variety of chutneys :D

Humongous paper tosai with assorted chutneys. At the background is some set that Ah Woey ordered.

We arrived Kechara pretty early. I think around 7ish. There were only a few volunteers there. So we immediately went to help.

The Soup Kitchen's front :D

1st task, help to unload 650 loaves of HiFive bread :D, a few cartons of chocolate milk and a 650pcs of HiFive buns :D

 Breads that i helped carried in.... damn tiring wei! i sweat buckets! :D
Drinks that i admittedly did not helped carry. Coz by the time i was done with the bread, everyone asked me to sit and rest coz i was all sweaty and flushed and apparently they say i looked like i was about to drop dead :P

Not long after we helped unload the stuffs from the van, Mr Khor and another old uncle drove out to collect cooked food from some restaurant. So we sat around, smoked a stick of ciggie or two before they came back with the cooked food. 

Helped packed the food. We formed a line and queue up to put 2 vegetarian dishes and white rice in brown paper packaging macam nasi lemak :D after packing about 200 packets, us newbies were asked to gather at the common area for our briefing by Mr Wong Kwok Wai. The rest of the seasoned volunteers continued to packed the food.

We later learned that tonite's food has extra varieties coz someone decided to celebrate her birthday by donating more food instead of spending it lavishly on party. That's soooooo nice!!! :D

 The kitchen where we packed the cooked food :D Taken when we first arrived
My name was used as ALL the examples / scenarios he gave coz i guess that's the price to pay for last minute cancelling 4 volunteers. but it's all good. Everyone there is super nice and friendly. I guess coz everyone is there for a purpose, to help :D

 Of coz there are a few ppl there who are natural leaders who wants to input their thoughts and suggestions on how to do stuffs and it was a wee bit annoying. but i guess the bottom line is, it's all for a good cause. So i didnt really bother :D 

Kwok Wai was sharing stories with us some of the homeless stories. One man old man actually ran away from home after finding out he has 4th stage cancer. his family is super poor and he didnt wanna burden his family with his illness so he ran away and became homeless. i almost cried. and another man ran away from his abusive wife. his children are all grown up and moved overseas and he didnt wanna tell his children that their mother is abusive, due to pride and due to him not wanting to worry his children. really heartbreaking.

After the briefing, we were sent upstairs to purchase our volunteering t-shirt at $25 per piece. It's not a must buy item, but it's good to buy and wear it immediately so that when we are walking the streets to distribute the food, the clients (we refer the homeless as clients coz we are there to serve them :D) will know who we are and more receptive to us when we approaches them :D

This is Ah Woey, and Hunger Knows No Barriers is Kechara Soup Kitchen's tag line :D

After purchasing and changing into the t-shirt, we head over next door mamak to have a drink before we have our final briefing and assigned to the locations we are suppose to cover.

Since we are newbies, we are to cover the easy route, Pudu Market area. Kwok Wai, Siong Woan and Mr Khor was our team leader. We went in 1 van which consist of Mr Khor driving, CJ (Siong Woan's 17yrs old son - thumbs up to him!! :D), Ah Woey, Steve, Kerry - works in NTV7 i think, Hazel - works in RTM i think (or the other way round. not sure), and me. Kwok Wai drove Siong Woan and their lady boss (i didnt get her name - some Datuk) in his car. They are basically there to observe us :)

We got to know the rest of the volunteers better and joked and laughed on the way to our 1st stop and it's really nice :D Hazel (i think that's her name) volunteered for the 3rd time tonite and she told us about her experiences at Chow Kit and it was pretty scary. How she went up to the jejantas to distribute food to those drug addicts who blatantly inject themselves in front of the volunteers without the care in the world.

The 1st stop was at the Fraser's Business Park roundabout. Mr Khor sounded the horns a few times to notify the other homeless uncle under the bridge that we were there. there was an old man sleeping by the roadside on the roundabout. When the old uncle came out under the bridge, Mr Khor instructed us to give him 2 sets. I guess his partner is down the bridge waiting for the food. It was really heartwrenching. The old uncle was carrying a canvas backpack, he looked old and frail and he gives me the impression that the backpack is his whole worldly possession. And i am imagining his wife is below the bridge waiting for the food as well. when he slowly walking down the concrete slope into the darkness of the under bridge, i found myself saying a short prayer for him. hope that he will be strong and not fall sick and not fall down whilst going down the steep slope. 

The next stop was at Pudu Market itself. As usual, before we stop the van, Mr Khor honked the horn to alert the clients we have arrived. We were advised not to go down at all. Coz apparently Mr Khor was assaulted last week by a man just because Mr Khor refused to give the man extra set of food for himself. Yes, of coz there are some really nasty ones. :) Then as we were leaving the area, we saw this frail lady waving at our van. Instinctively, we knew she is homeless. But Mr Khor didnt see so he drove on and we stopped him, some 50 meters away. She looked dejected, as if we were abandoning her. Then when the van stopped, she was too timid to walk up to us. So Mr Khor have to gesture her over to our van. But she was really frail and walking really slow. So Mr Khor brought the food over to her :(

After distributing at Pudu Market, we head on to another stop. we all went down to distribute. There was a long line formed within minutes of us there. There was one old mak cik whom Kwok Wai told us used to work for CIMB bank. I do not know her story, but she is one story i am quite curious about. As we were leaving the place, we saw all of them sitting at the shops corridor wolfing down the rice hungrily. Apparently for most of them, this could be the only meal of the day or worst, only meal in a few days :(

The next stop was freaky. at least to me la :P there is this deranged indian lady, Mary, who were lying on the floor with blanket covering her and she was making gestures to the air and as if talking to someone. Ah Woey, Mr Khor and Steve went down to put the food next to her. Later when Ah Woey was sending me back, i asked him what was Mary talking about? in wat language? apparently she wasnt talking =.=" she was lipsynch-ing =.=" really zar tou!! :D And Ah Woey say Mr Khor was there saying "Mary! are you Mary? Mary? Mary?" LOL! she of coz didnt answer la, she was too busy lipsynching :P

The 2nd final stop was really sad. This old man, sitting outside someone's house on a concrete slab looking sad and dejected and topless. We were not sure if he is homeless. So we stopped the van and CJ wind down the window and say "Ah pak! Oi sek fan mou?" (in cantonese, uncle! do you want to eat?). He walked towards our van slowly to collect the food and then went back to the concrete slab. he looked so sad and dejected and depressed and i really really felt my heart breaks :( Hazel lamented that she wished she had brought some clothes with her so that she can give him to shield him from the wind.

We sat in the van in silent for a moment and started to comment how lucky we are to have a roof over our head, to have clean water to drink, to have toilet to use, to have a bed to sleep on and to have aircon. we are indeed really lucky.

We reached back at Kechara Soup Kitchen 2 minutes before midnite. And we were surprised how time flies!

After tonite, i felt inspired to go back again next week to help. and next week, due to it being CNY, the food distribution will be on Friday nite instead. So, if you are interested to volunteer or help, here are the details:

Kechara Soup Kitchen
17 Jalan Barat
(Off Jalan Imbi)
55100 Kuala Lumpur,

Tel: +603 2141 6046
Fax: +603 2141 6049

Project Director Chua Siong Woan (+6010 3333 260) or Mr Wong Kwok Wai +6012 3669 048

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