Pulau Pinang, a brief time of recuperation before the journey

The storm approaching the seashore of Penang.

Its always good to be back in Penang, even though the times spent is usually on a cocktail of work and pleasure. Relaxation, no matter how brief, is something of a rarity nowadays for me. The cold weather, with the whipping sea wind and gloomy sky promised moments of rain. Nature didn’t disappoint me, as Penang was covered by the kisses of the storm. Magnificent, really.

Outreach, that dreaded word that armchair activists glued to their computer screens and urban Starbuck-sipping social workers dread. Outreach is all about being mobile, providing services to marginalized communities outside of the office and into the realms where support does not exist or injustice runs wild. I’ve done outreach work, since the beginning of 1990 and grown quite accustomed to moving about; supported by random, flickering emotions.

I’ve been focusing on work, and the northern communities living in semi-isolation, whether in small forgotten towns, a track of land devoted to bananas and papayas, or in the chicken farms and fishing villages. Out-of-school young people continue to be marginalized by their urban peers and adults who demand that the “mischievous youths” bow in obedience to the so-called societal norms. With the little funding I have secured, the work takes me to the states of Kedah, Perlis, Penang, Kelantan and hopefully Terengganu.

The break, merely one day, gave me some time to wander alone on the seashore, contemplating on the approaching storm and warding from the overbearing thoughts of work. I quite enjoy the times I spent roaming in Penang, with the local tasty cuisine, the old architectures and the narrow roads leading practically nowhere.

Indeed, what a marvellous day to unwind and consume the sights.




An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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