WHEN Mas Sabran lost his job in the hotel industry in March, he found himself sleeping in the streets of Kuala Lumpur with only a few clothes in his bag.
With no money or means to travel back to his family in Sarawak, the 32-year-old had no choice but to rely on food handed out by volunteer groups for several months as jobs were hard to come by during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, he and some 200 other homeless people were brought to temporary shelters set up for the homeless by the Federal Territories Ministry and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
There, they were given food and shelter and screened for Covid-19.
Those staying at the temporary shelters were also given the option to be vaccinated under the MyMedic@Wilayah Vaccine Mobile Truck programme.
“I am glad to have had the first dose of the vaccine and that we were not left behind.
“The vaccination process was very fast and organised,” Mas Sabran said when met at the Setiawangsa Community Centre recently.
About 100 homeless people sheltered at the Sentul Perdana and Setiawangsa community centres received their first dose of the vaccine.
On June 17, a total of 119 people housed at Anjung Kelana completed their second dose of the vaccine.
Hasnah Hasan, 60, was also relieved to be vaccinated as she was worried about rising Covid-19 cases in the city.
“Many of us do not own smartphones and have no permanent address. It was not even possible for us to register for the vaccination programme,” the former security guard said.
She hoped the lockdown would be lifted soon so that she could go back to her home state of Perak.
Volunteers from several non-governmental organisations dealing with the homeless community were also inoculated during the vaccination exercise.
National Welfare Foundation (YKN) chief executive officer Nordina Haron said about 20 of their volunteers were given the opportunity to be vaccinated.
“As we interact with many of these vulnerable communities on a regular basis, being vaccinated would allow us to continue our programmes safely.”
She said many factors contributed to people ending up homeless and it could not be eradicated overnight.
“We work with other federal agencies and the private sector to establish long-term programmes to help the homeless get back on their feet.“One of our pilot projects is the MyKasih Capital Assistance Programme to encourage women to do business, especially those involved in e-commerce or drop-ship,” she said, adding that there were other similar projects in the pipeline.
During the first movement control order in March last year, over 800 homeless people living in various parts of the city were rounded up and placed in shelters.
DBKL set up temporary shelters at 10 community centres and multipurpose halls, in addition to two transit centres — Pusat Transit Gelandangan in Jalan Pahang and Anjung Singgah in Jalan Hang Lekiu — to house the homeless to prevent the spread of Covid-19.