Tag: humanity

Soup Kitchen for Marginalized, Homeless Community in Kuala Lumpur

Homelessness and marginalization affects many countries, especially when development and urbanization grows unchecked by the government and ignored by society. Malaysia likes to highlight its modern cities and dramatic shift from an agriculture-based nation to a sophisticated civilization.

Yet behind the scenes, and often blatantly staring at your face, poverty and hardship grows in Kuala Lumpur, a self-declared city of successes.

On May 3 in KL, I observed a group of young volunteers, mobilized by Dapur Jalanan, providing free food and drinks to about 80 marginalized people, many of them Malaysians. Well organized, efficiently coordinated by empowered young Malaysians. Dapur Jalanan conducts food services once a week, on Sunday. If you’re interested to help or simply curious, do check out their site: https://www.facebook.com/dapurjalanankl

 

Zashnain

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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The High Cost Of Wishing For Better Days

Strong winds, dreadfully cold temperature. Night time, in Bangkok. Its the “winter” season in most parts of Thailand. How bizarre, and how odd. That word, “winter” in this region. The chills forces me to walk further, past the narrow alleys and the dim lights almost hovering. No fog, but expecting the early morning mist much later.

Where are the others? The homeless. In this wretchedness one calls a city. They’re not dead, they couldn’t be dead, at least I hope not. The intense cold offers no comfort to those without shelter, even for the outreach worker who struggles to find them. The streets where they normally sleep at nights, they are not seen.

Easy now, there’s usually an explanation. For some reason, there’s logic behind this… Or not.

City hall commands the streets of Bangkok. Responsible for the city, them with their office monuments covered by walls and warmth. Yet they, these pesky officials, appear not to be interested in the struggles, nor radiate that caring aura that some people boast about. Responsibility. Aye, there’s no logic to that, nowadays.

Hallucination. The grand illusion of middle class empathy for those living on the streets. More like phantoms, shifting shadows, from one corner to another. I’ve seen through them, the supposedly mystery buried in the filth, on the streets and in the many polluted canals.

A question mark that lies in the night, now, with those howling whipping winds. Bangkok, a shrine of more troubles, in the months ahead. Could we expect the high cost of wishing for better days?

Bangkok Poverty

Source: bedlamfury

 

Zashnain

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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Rohingya: A Dying Community

http://akrockefeller.com/media/rohingya-the-forgotten-people/

They are branded as one of the most persecuted communities in the world by the UN, yet nobody knows their name. They are the forgotten people.

In recent weeks, the escalating violence has displaced more than 90,000 Rohingya people. Villages are being burnt, people are being abducted, concentration camps are being created, women are being raped and children mercilessly killed. The persecution against the Rohingya can be described in no other terms but that of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Check out: Burma’s Rohingya – The Human Story

 

Zashnain

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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Memories of Misi Bangkok

Came across an old post by Nurul Izzah, a member of the Malaysian Parliament. We have met only a couple of times, the last bit was after the “Misi Bangkok” – she treated me to a great brunch in Kuala Lumpur, I was still in hunger-mode then as it was difficult to find food during the great flood of Thailand.

Nurul has a good heart, she offered support to me when I needed it, the funds she raised was crucial in the relief work in 2012. RM4,000 was the budget for almost a month in a flooded Bangkok, my work took me to the wet streets and residential locations through the metropolis. Nowadays many relief workers (many I know in Malaysia) expect exorbitant budgets to do community work, for coordination and what-ever-nots. I did it with a small budget, and I am thankful to Nurul, who I treat like my sister, and her humility and concerns for people made vulnerable due to poverty and natural disaster, regardless of their nationality.

Even as I travel Thailand, almost year later, I still remember my little sister with great fondness.

 

Misi Bangkok

 

Zashnain

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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Q & A With @isaanlife about Buddhism in Thailand

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Zash:

How long have you been living in Thailand and practising Buddhism?

Tom:

I arrived in Thailand in August of 1995 and have been in Northeast Thailand, with the exception of a few trips to Laos and Bangkok, been here without break since that time.

Practicing Buddhism? Well what time is it? I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. I was first introduced to Buddhism during the war in Vietnam. Through my adult years I read about Buddhism in its many forms, as well as people like Thomas Merton, Thomas Aquinas and others.

Hearing about Ajahns Chah and Sumedho, as well as a couple Bhikkhus who were Vietnam vets I arrived at Amaravati in 1985. So in a sense you might say I have been practicing Buddhism since then. Of course I would disagree. Let’s put it this way I have been eating since I was born, but not constantly. To my mind Buddhism is something that should be like breathing, done constantly, without thought, not doen from time to time when the mood hits. 

It gets even more complicated, or perhaps easier than that. It is a bit like trying to explain what orange tastes like.

 

Zash: 

Is Buddhism a religion or a way of life? Or both? What are your thoughts about this?

Tom:

There is absolutely nothing to believe in Buddhism and there is NO deity. There is plenty to investigate. To see for yourself The Noble Truth of Suffering, The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, and the Noble Truth of the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering. 

http://www.buddhanet.net is a good place to look at what Buddhism is about (I am going to use links when answering questions, when it seems useful) People need to create “religion” People need to put the, old man, face on God. People suffer and need to do those things that are human and In Buddhist teachings, greed, hatred, and delusion are kilesas and are the root of samsara. 

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ is another good and accurate source of information. 

Religion is a man-made thing, so if man wants to make Buddhism, gold, greed, goodness, or even mickey mouse a religion it is up to him. A way of life, if you mean that through investigation and awareness on conducts themselves in a certain manner, then I guess so. My thoughts are I do not have a clue as to what is going on in other people’s minds, as a matter of fact I often wonder what the hell what I call my mind is up to. 

Here’s a little exercise for your readers. Where do your thoughts come from? Why are they born, have a life of their own and then are gone? And where do they go? 

 

Zash: 

Your blog talks about Buddhism in Isaan. Is there a difference to the beliefs and practices in other provinces? Is Thai Buddhism different than in other countries in this region? If yes, where. If no, why?

Tom:

I talk about Buddhism in Isaan because I have been here 17 years. I can read about or see things from other places, but I only write about what I see and experience here. 

The Tripitaka (Tipitaka in Pali) is Theravadan Buddhism. Read that you know what Buddhism is about. Sure any area might have its own customs and things to add, but can have nothing that contracts the vinaya. I already provided a couple links to the vinaya. 

Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and whatever else are governed and filled with humans so they all end up humanized. That is not a pretty sight but that is the conventional reality of it all.

 

Zash:

Why do adults become monks for a short while before leaving the monastery? It’s a thai thing more about face than anything to do with Dhamma. Is there a local misconception of monks and what is expected of them (role in society)?

Tom:

Who cares what people think monks should do? Monks should only be aware of what the Buddha would do!

 

xxx

You can find Tom on his twitter https://twitter.com/isaanlife and his blog http://isaan-life.blogspot.com/

At times he’s a grouchy old bugger but honest with his thoughts and a steadfast intelligent, funny friend who is in love with Isaan. 

 

 

 

Zashnain

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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Life is Precious, Don’t Forget That

I have to say, I think that we are in some kind of crossroad as to whether civilization is civilized, or has it turned onto itself in its raw prejudicial and cannibalistic way, consuming others due to their bizarre desire or merely just because the individual is different from the rest of the common folk.

Are we really qualified to take on the responsibility of nurturing life; or have we grown in complete redundancy and apathy as our religion?

Life is not about society and its conformity to society’s standards (much less expectations!). Does a single person have the courage to really go along with the truth? Is one life more important than the thousands?

Or does one voice brings about justice compared to a million?

Life is precious. Don’t forget that.

 

 

Zashnain

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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My Neighbourhood – Official Trailer – A Just Vision Film

(25 mins) When a Palestinian boy loses half of his home to Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem, he joins his community in a campaign of nonviolent protests. Efforts to put a quick end to the demonstrations are foiled when scores of Israelis choose to stand by the residents’ side.

Zashnain

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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The lost child gnawing at the edge of reality

Children, roaming aimlessly, many with worries on their faces. Faces are drawn and haggard from homelessness and work. Even when human rights are championed by the protectors of humanity, the void of child poverty grows wider. Such fiendish hypocrisy is fed by the elitism of social causes, preferring trendy concerns over beggarism.

Everyday, young people are depleted of their hopes and dreams, living at the mercy of barbaric neglect and by a knowledge-bent, refined society. It is not as if we do not have the skills and resources to respect and acknowledge the rights of young people and children. Instead we prefer the madness of ignorance, the addictive sensation of being selfish.

We, humanity, are sucked into this agony of self-righteousness. We prefer the bliss of not being poor, or marginalized. Many children are made vulnerable because of our prejudice at their way of life, their resistance against the establishment and the fact that they are poor. We are the monsters that prey on the future of streetkids, we choose to abandon them to their fate.

Homelessness and poverty

 

Zashnain

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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Visiting young friends in the plantation

The heat wave is stifling hot in Malaysia. My friends in Thailand report the same, though the humidity here is crushing – suffocating which drains the energy and leaves one hallow. My journey took me to a plantation, some 17 kilometers from a small town called Bagan Lalang. The palm oil plantation was almost in the middle of nowhere, the weather was terrible.

Surrounded by tall trees and ferns, I walked with my young guide, armed with a backpack and my mobile phone. Wasn’t much to see if you’re comfortable with the luxury of the city but I have always been fascinated with the rural environment. Swarm of insects accompanied us, must have been a few species united in a buzzing harmony. Thirst followed suit.

What trives in a plantation are the workers who break their backs in hardship and extreme poverty. Little do people know that the small community have no place to go. They live, they work, they eat, they bathe, they die in the plantations. Regardless of what you might have read, rural poverty starts in the plantations, the fishing villages, and the indigenous homes. These days many Malaysians employ migrant workers from South Asia and also from Indonesia – labour is cheap, the work is brutal and thus the locals avoid the hardship.

I visits two makeshift huts where out-of-school, marginalized young people live and work. Child labor is common in isolated places in Malaysia – whether urban or rural – life is tough for the kids. They appeared dirty and tired but greeted me with smiles and firm handshakes. That was my sixth visit so I recognized them but detecting a couple of new faces in the background. They are not only caught in the vicious cycle of poverty but also many are using drugs or substances (sniffing glue). Smoking heroin was their drug of choice. Why are the kids in such a dump? Simply because society doesn’t care enough about ‘troublesome kids’ especially adolescents who were taking drugs.

The huts were in terrible condition, and clean drinking water was in short supply not to mention their lack of capacity to buy food. I believe in harm reduction principles and practices and thus my presence at their turf was merely to check on their health, make referrals, counseling and talk about addiction. I do what I can to equip them with life skills, and help them problem-solve on financial and family related issues – many still want to go back to their families but are unable to do so because of societal prejudice and the stigma.

They are responsible young people, the youngest being 15 years old and the oldest at 23. They divide responsibilities, look after each other the best that they can. So far so good. Spent hours talking and laughing with them. Enjoyed the moments despite the blistering humidity. I do what I can but lack resources to effectively improve their quality of life. Social work has always been my passion, a calling, the need to help the poor, the vulnerable and those damned by society because of ignorance and prejudice.

I left their homes, engrossed in my thoughts, always with the feeling that I could do more for them.

Zashnain

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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From darkness to darkness deeper yet

By a combination of intense thinking and mystic concentration, some people enabled their minds to roam with rarely attainable freedom, sometimes so successfully that they came upon fresh and valuable insights. When they did reach new theories and perceptions about the meaning of life and death, they were eager to share their discoveries with others. Many then left their hill retreats and wandered through the countryside, the cities, preaching to all who would listen.

In this day and age, we would brand them “madmen” — or simply wave a dismissal at them. Mankind has lost the art of listening, the humility to embrace new thoughts. We cannot persuade our suspicious mind to believe in the notion of inevitable life, and the desired humanity. We wander deeper into our own darkness of ignorance.

Zashnain

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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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand
This work by Moui is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand.
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