Tag: poverty

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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Kuala Lumpur: Homelessness, Revisited

Homelessness is not a new societal dilemma in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, homelessness affect even beyond the urban and rural poor. Often communities struggle with high cost of living, poor mental health, societal stigmatization and unemployment.

Malaysia, with its 30-odd million people, is blessed with natural resources, surrounded by non-threatening neighbours, a wealth of knowledge left behind by her colonial masters. Malaysia, my country, has moved largely away from an agricultural nation, into the sophisticated, modern country that it is now, with Kuala Lumpur as its pulsing, growing heart of bourgeoisie appetite.

However with rapid urbanization, poor public administration, clueless NGOs and a money-hungry society which seems to enjoy feeding upon itself, the marginalization of communities has grown. Homeless folks, visibly more Malaysians than foreigners, some from the distant shores of Malaysia’s Borneo, of Sabah and Sarawak. They, and some with their families, flock the roads, back lanes, the commercial centres and the capitalistic monuments of modern development. Yet despite their visibility, they find that the middle-class urbanites and elites are more often uninterested in helping the poor, those in need. Class-based prejudice, sometimes infused with racism, and even xenophobia, is the dominating component that makes Kuala Lumpur what it is now.

A city, filled with loss.

Elder, homeless and begging in the heart of capitalistic Kuala Lumpur.
Elder, homeless and begging in the heart of capitalistic Kuala Lumpur.
A temporary home, in plain sight of corporate offices. Yet urban society ignores the homeless, maybe hoping they would simply disappear.
A temporary home, in plain sight of corporate offices. Yet urban society ignores the homeless, maybe hoping they would simply disappear.
Urbanites usually ignore the plights of Malaysians and foreigners who are homeless in the city.
Urbanites usually ignore the plights of Malaysians and foreigners who are homeless in the city.
Modernisation of Kuala Lumpur. Only the elites enjoy true luxury and comfort.
Modernisation of Kuala Lumpur. Only the elites enjoy true luxury and comfort.
This couple does not appear to be hungry or homeless, but they were begging near KL Sentral.
This couple does not appear to be hungry or homeless, but they were begging near KL Sentral.
Under the scorching sun, surrounded by Malaysian monuments of development, this man begs for coins.
Under the scorching sun, surrounded by Malaysian monuments of development, this man begs for coins.

 

 

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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Tragedy of the Poor, Living in Societal Apathy

Sunday, hellishly humid and blisteringly hot. Bangkok. I’m in one of those random moods to explore places, away from anything that looks and feels elaborate in structure and decoration. The feet, thighs and lower back set in motion, and I’m off. Bangkok holds much for a traveller, particularly when one is away from the main roads and shopping malls. Life, as in many cities, begins in the older districts, where tourists would not venture, where the middle-class are conveniently absent.

Elderly man working

Elderly Thai man walks slowly to the roadside, in search for discarded wealth, at least to him. Bottles, recycled goods, a source of income for him, and many others like him, who wander the old streets in search for something to sell, to trade, in exchange for baht. Survival, in this city, is challenging for those without a stable income. High cost of living, in particular, the rent of a small flat or a hut in the slum. You’re expected to pay, whether to the landlord, gang or corrupted official, to stay, to live on the space we call land.

Elderly man recycle work

I see a decline of what’s left of empathy among the middle-class population of the metropolis. Aye, people seems to be quick to offer the coin, or two, to the street beggars. But that’s just about it, about the act of giving, a confinement of empathy. Passing loose change to the vagabond, the disabled homeless person in Bangkok is habitual in nature, almost an instinct to reach into the pocket to offer unused coins. Behaviours are still the same, as we walk by the bowing beggar, and within a heartbeat, we forget their faces and their existence.

 

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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As if people cared about the urban poor

The homeless and urban poor in Kuala Lumpur are an invisible community. They roam about the city, hidden by the shadows, or trying to earn the daily wage in the filthy back lanes from some odd job that most working class Malaysians won’t want to get their hands dirty. Whether the poor are locals or foreigners, it matters not to Malaysian society, the Institution does not seem to see nor positively react to the presence of the untouchables.

They are rendered invisible from societal prejudice, and when it suits the high society, the rich, the marginalized suddenly become visible once or twice a year during festive holy days when charity becomes a norm in front of photographers and ass-kissing reporters who have received a generous gift to write a story about some corporate social responsibility of a company or the “generosity” of a politician.

Stigmatization of the urban poor happens simply because people stopped caring for those without money and due to their lowered station in life. Society depends on NGOs to “clean the streets” of the undesirables, or what do they call them, “remove them for their own good” as someone said to me.

As if society cares for the struggles and lives of the poor. As if NGOs know what to do.

homeless in Kuala Lumpur

 

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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Inside Malaysia’s Shadow State: “Its Been Done Before”

A new investigation by Global Witness reveals the systemic corruption and illegality at the heart of government in Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state. This film, shot undercover during the investigation, reveals for the first time the instruments used by members of the ruling Taib family and its local lawyers to skirt Malaysia’s laws and taxes, creaming off huge profits at the expense of indigenous people and hiding their dirty money in Singapore.

Singapore, the “New Switzerland” where money goes in and disappears. So much for anti-corruption in that little island.

 

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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Demonstration: Land Rights and Poverty in Thailand

[dmalbum path=”/wp-content/uploads/dm-albums/Land Rights/”/]

 

There was over 900 marginalized people in front of the Government Building on 2 Oct 2012 [Bangkok]. They gathered, to show solidarity and for the government to address their needs and concerns affecting their land, homes and rights. Many are poor folks, those living in urban slums, in hardship and a minority of those struggling against statelessness. 

Despite the incredible heat and humidity, hundreds listened to the speeches of their community leaders. Some spoke about the delays of development, others mentioned rights to land, housing and an identity, while words of unhappiness against the encroachment of corporations and people who live by the whims of greed.

By evening, I was informed that the Government of Thailand had responded to act upon the issues expressed by the demonstrators. I admit, I found that their prime minister, Yingluck, has proactively set a culture of assembly where Thais can gather to express themselves on most issues. I eagerly hope that more Thais embrace the peaceful concept of demonstrations and the government sets the benchmark of good governance for and by the people.

The right to a land is not just a human right, it sparks the life blood of a community. These folks seek to remove themselves from poverty and peacefully advocated their rights to a better life. 

P-MOVE = Justice for the Poor

 

Read Isa Ibrahim’s post: Faces of the Ostracized

 

 

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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Special Privileges and Odd Characteristic

Tremendous physical endurance, passive courage and good breeding are among the more admirable qualities of those living in splendour.

Such qualities require the separation of the weak from the strong. The poor are not even in this equation; they simply do not qualify to be rubbing shoulders with the elites.

Characteristics that are more typically refined – and of much greater cultural significance – than a liking for expensive alcohol or speaking with an accent are the bizarre national tendencies towards melancholy and scepticism.

The melancholy is often attributed to the physical environment, that interminable of sunny and humidity, and the scepticism is assumed to be a logical reaction to their psyche.

Memories of strife, betrayal, damning-emotional plagues and rejection are not easily erased. Not by these groups.

Such are the lives of the elites; they care not of the growing sentiments against them. They merely care about themselves.

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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Forgotten, the child continues to beg in the sea of ignorance

Yes Bangkok is a city of contradictions and life is often brought about by extremes and radical ignorance. I’ve noticed that despite the wealth and knowledge of society, there’s very little motivation to change, that growth is a comatose element of Bangkok.

Elitism has grown fat from the ignorance and fear of a complacent society, not really caring about inspiring others to make those changes.

I was near a shopping mall, and saw a child begging on the street, surrounded by an army of shoppers and young people. No one took notice of the beggar boy, no one cares, after all the child is dirty, uneducated and poor. After all, he is, like many, a multicoloured contradiction to empathy.

a begging child ignored by all

a begging child ignored by all

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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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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