Homeless can seek temporary refuge in cooler places
KUALA LUMPUR: The sweltering heat is a challenge for many people. For those on the streets, it’s worse.
With no shade, fans or air-conditioning, they are more vulnerable.
As the heatwave is expected to last until August, living on the streets could even become life-threatening.
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The good news is that those in Kuala Lumpur now have several places where they can seek temporary refuge.
One spot where they can escape from the heat is a double-storey day shelter shophouse operated by Global Street Mission (GSM).
The place is indoors with fans, and GSM also provides lunch and dinner, as well as snacks.
The shelter, which can house 20 people at a time, has showers so the guests can take a bath and cool down.
“The heatwave has just added to the problem of homelessness. In the Chow Kit area, they have no shelter and the heat can be quite bad,” said GSM president Patrick Samuel Sebastian.
“As long as they need a place to take a break from the heat and have some light refreshment, we welcome them,” he said.
For next month, Sebastian hopes the shelter can start hosting homeless individuals overnight.
Another refuge from the heat is Pusat Khidmat Gelandangan Medan Tuanku built by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
It is one of the three food distribution centres where various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) take turns providing food for the homeless.
Surrounded by trees and well shaded, the Medan Tuanku centre has water refilling stations and bathrooms.
One of the NGOs that distributes food in Medan Tuanku is Pertiwi Soup Kitchen.
“We give out three meals daily and there is also medical care provided,” said Pertiwi Soup Kitchen founder Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid.
To combat the heatwave, NGOs like Kechara Soup Kitchen Society and Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kebajikan dan Persekitaran Positif Malaysia (Seed) are also giving out more water during food distribution rounds.
However, there are other problems caused by the hot spell. The hot and humid weather has seen a rise in the number of mosquitoes.
“Since the last three months, we have been giving out mosquito repellent, too” said Teddy Mobile Clinic co-founder Alfred Samuel Mariyaras.
The mobile clinic provides free medical check-ups and medicine every Wednesday at one of the transit homes run by DBKL (Pusat Transit Gelandangan).
“For the homeless staying there, the heatwave is a smaller issue as they are provided with water, shelter and food,” added Alfred.
Instead, he said, there is a greater risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue.