Homeless Muslims steadfast in their faith

Meals to heal: Cheah and Kechara Soup Kitchen members handing out food to the homeless.

KUALA LUMPUR: Being homeless or poor did not stop Muslims from fasting, said Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) project director Justin Cheah.

Every Ramadan, he notices there were fewer people at their soup kitchen during lunch hour.

“We see a reduction in numbers, it’s a significant drop. And when we give food at night, we see them taking food for sahur (the morning meal before fasting).

“Homeless people are just like any other Malaysians,” he said during an interview at the Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) office here on Saturday.

Cheah, who has been with KSK since it started in 2008, said there were still Malay­sians who looked down on the homeless and believed soup kitchens encouraged homelessness.

He said that there were many reasons why people were homeless.

“Is it because people give them food and they become lazy? No,” he said.

He said a large number of homeless in the Klang Valley are East Malaysians who were cheated by agents who promised them jobs.

“Many are from very poor families and cannot buy a ticket home,” he said.

Cheah said there were also homeless people who were employed.

“Homelessness is not a choice. Who wants to be homeless? A majority of them have jobs, but they don’t make enough to be able to pay rent,” he said.

Apart from giving out free meals, KSK also provides counselling and medical services.

“Food is a tool to build a relationship with them, but the end goal is to help them to get off the streets.

“We want to build trust and relationships with each individual so that we can find out what their issues are and help the individual to get off the streets,” he said.

However, he felt that there was still a lot to be done – by the Government, non-governmental organisations and society itself – to help reduce the number of homeless people in the country.

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