Food for the soul: A Pertiwi Soup Kitchen volunteer serving food to the homeless in Chow Kit Road.
KUALA LUMPUR: As the city nears midnight, Anuar, 35, often receives looks of scorn as he prepares to retire for the night at his usual spot along a walkway in Chow Kit Road here.
“I have no choice but to sleep here, since I can’t afford to rent a room.
“Other than that, I am your average Malaysian. Why humiliate me by considering me unfit for the city?” he said.
Anuar is not the only one who claims to be “treated like scum”, as members of the homeless community in the city say they are often mistreated and worse, feared by the city’s other residents.
Anuar, who has been here for eight years, also recounted the times people had refused to acknowledge him when he warned them to be careful with their bags when walking along the street.
“As it is, we are swallowing our pride and living on the streets, taking food from soup kitchens.
“Thinking of us as being on a lower level than the rest of society is painful,” he said.
Krishna, 28, who is jobless, said people often thought of the homeless as lazy and dependent on handouts when they simply failed to find employment.
“I have health issues and have a certificate from the doctors saying I am unfit for certain jobs, such as those that require lifting heavy objects.
“I can still do simple work, but many refuse to hire me because of my medical condition,” he said.
Krishna, who has been homeless for five years now, said it was unfair for people to expect them to simply “clear the streets”.
“Now you tell us to go away, what will happen to us?
“Are we no better than stray animals to these people?” he asked.
The Malaysian homeless also face another problem where they have to contend with illegal immigrants and drug addicts.
Krishna and Anuar claimed that many who received aid from soup kitchens were not even Malaysian.
They said there were very few among the group who actually had a MyKad.
“Soup kitchens do not check MyKad, so we end up with many people abusing the system for free food.
“There are fewer than 50 of us sleeping on the street here, but at a soup kitchen you will find about 200 people,” said Anuar.
Many of the homeless here receive aid from soup kitchens, such as the Pertiwi service that runs four nights a week.
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