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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