“Puan… Bagi kami lebih boleh tak. Nak simpan. Susah nak keluar cari makan sekarang. Polis banyak.”
(Madam… Please give us more. We need to save some for later. It’s difficult to go out and look for food now. The police are everywhere.”)
This is the desperate cry of the people who call the streets of Chow Kit their home. For the unhoused people, the Movement Control Order (MCO) that took effect on March 18 is horror on top of horror. For the completely destitute, they would rather die of COVID-19 than hunger.
“My heart is broken”
“Chow Kit is so quiet, all the shops are shut. Police personnel are everywhere. Everyone on the street is asked to leave. There’s no way for them to look for food,” says Nor Akmar Qaseh (Kak Akmar), a kind and compassionate individual who often works closely with Pertubuhan Kebajikan Ar-Rikab Kuala Lumpur to provide aid to the marginalised community in the area.
For several years now, Kak Akmar has been reaching out to the most vulnerable among the homeless. They comprise drug users, sex workers, transgenders, people living with HIV, and former prison inmates. She calls them her rakan jalanan (friends on the street).
For those who have jobs, they earn a daily wage. Now that businesses are forced to close for the period of the MCO, these people have lost their only source of income. No income means no food for the day. Even the sex workers have no work, their clients have stopped calling.
Each time Kak Akmar hits the streets to deliver cooked food, she is greeted with desperation. Her heart is broken. “Our street friends come running to us when we arrive. Not even 20 minutes and 100 packs of rice are gone. Many had to leave in dismay. We are not able to feed so many of them.” Kak Akmar’s efforts are funded by kind Malaysians who donate cooked food, dry sundries and daily necessities. On some days, contributions are less, and on such days fewer get to fill their tummy. Some of them have not eaten for days.
If you’d like to reach out to Kak Akmar to donate, visit https://www.facebook.com/norakmar.qaseh or contact her by WhatsApp: +60 17-388 5161