DAY THIRTY-EIGHT: Tuesday, 27th April 2010
I am in a middle of a special project and it involves seeing lots and lots of homeless people and hard core poor. There are just countless of pictures that I have to go through. Some of them I have come into contact personally when I joined the Kechara Soup Kitchen(KSK) feeding routes. KSK have been doing this since 2006. Today, KSK feed more than 800 hungry mouths in a week. Yes, I am talking about our city, Kuala Lumpur. And these 800 over people are as young as 18 and as old as 70. Imagine that age range!
The state of being poor is not limited to just the physical aspects in life.
It is not just about having no money, no food to eat, no shelter to call home and being denied of the very opportunity that allows us to live decently.
It goes beyond the physical and tangible context.
It is the loss of hope that really de-humanizes.
When we lose hope, we will no longer fight to live on. Hence, we will allow ourselves to descend into sub-human living conditions. In the process, we become sub-humans as well.
Life in the streets can ravage even the best of humanity, because the conditions in the streets are scarily challenging and very harsh. One may easily forget one’s sense and sensibilities in this perilous environment. When our so-called homes are back alleys, cardboard boxes and pavements of buildings, then we may begin to act and think like scavengers or sewer rats.
No sane individuals would ever willingly choose to be living on the streets if they had access to better opportunities, or were given “second chances”. Unfortunately, for some, living off the streets may have become their way of life. These are the ones who have lost all hope and have resigned from life altogether.
Therefore, poverty destroys beyond just the physical aspects.
It kills the human spirit.
Hence, Kechara Soup Kitchen feeds more than just the hunger, they feed the hope.
Here, I want to share a story of a lady whom we have been feeding/helping since we started in 2006. She is simply known as Ah Bee. She begs in a corner at Petaling Street. She gets beat up constantly, because there are people who rob from the homeless. Yes, there are such people who would rob a couple of dollars or a packet of food from the homeless.
2 weeks after this picture was taken of Ah Bee, she was beaten to death. She was robbed of her food and her measly few dollars.
As to date, KSK has saved more than 100 people from the streets by providing them with help, care and even getting these unfortunate individuals jobs. 2 people were even reunited with their families.
I can tell you that even with the success rate that KSK achieves, their hearts still bleed each time they come across a sad story like Ah Bee. To date, KSK have also lost more than 5 people. Frankly, KSK’s loss is really our loss, as a society and as a community.
Sometimes, getting the message and awareness out to everyone is not so simple and easy. And most of the time, people are less concerned with what KSK actually does, but are more interested in intellectual discussions. The famous words I hear all the time, “But aren’t you all keeping them in the streets by feeding them?” Yes, many have suggested that feeding programs like KSK are actually perpetuating the state of homelessness in our city.
I have only this to say, “Please come and join KSK one day. Then you will see what KSK sees and you will know what KSK really does. But until then, please refrain from making comments which you have absolutely no clue about. And what’s more, you do not even care to donate one cent to KSK or any NGO for that matter.”
Please, come and learn more about KSK in http://www.kechara.com/ksk/
KSK does a whole lot more than just feed.
Anyways, here is my DAY THIRTY-EIGHT :-
No. Of Prostrations: 50
Daily Sadhanas: Check and Done with Death Meditation and Dzambala Mantra.
Physical Exercise: nil because the brain is dead and the body has gone into a coma
Daily Reflection from "IF NOT NOW, WHEN?" – Here we go. I close my eyes and I picked out page 013.
Quote from Page 013 for Day Thirty-Eight:
“Dharma is not about who is right and who is wrong; it is not about whose center is big; it is not about which religion is right; it is not about whether there is a next life or not; it is not about whether Buddha exists or God exists; it is not about whether Catholicism is the real religion or Buddhism is the real religion; it is not about any of that. It is about us bringing harmony into our families, into our lives and to the people we care about NOW. That is what it is about. And that is what we learn Dharma for.”
Personal Thoughts and Feelings:
It is too easy to sit in some ivory tower or comfortable environment and issue out judgements and make conclusions on things we are so “far removed” from “actual contact”.
When we don’t even walk those streets and live in those shoes, we cannot even begin to imagine how life is like from that perspective.
Hunger can really drive people into desperation and inhuman acts.
But what about the rest of us who seemingly have everything under our roof, what drives us to do something kind for someone else for a change instead of sitting in our air-conditioned room and passing out comments like we are some experts?
Compassion in action means you do something. You don't just sit around and discuss like it is the topic of the day, or it is a case study. THIS IS REAL LIFE. Not an intellectual discussion.
So, to me, organizations like KSK, ChowKidz, Yellow House and Gawad Kalinga are embodiments of compassion in action.
They walk the talk and they do it every single day.
What pains me insanely is the very thought that those who suffer and are less fortunate become my teachers. Their very sad disposition in life is a lesson to me. How I wish that no one has to suffer just for me to learn? How I wish that no one needs to live in pain just so the rest of us can learn to start appreciating our lives a little more, or even our own situation.
If you have walked the streets in KL where KSK feeds, you will not be so quick to judge. If you have walked into the slums of Philippines, you will not be so harsh and cold in your comments.
The very scenes in those places would stain our white papery hearts with compassion, and we will have no choice but to learn to empathize.
The sad truth is, my pain is nothing compared to theirs.
I am luckier than them because I can leave after helping them, but they can’t.
That’s their home. That’s their life.