Sunday, September 11, 2011

Feed the Poor, Feed the Soul

by Azeem Ambalam

Azeem is a regular volunteer at YMP's Soup Kitchen. We operate every Wednesday and Sunday night. This article was originally published here.

I first found out about PERTIWI Soup Kitchen thru my neighbor Jenna whom I tagged along with on a rainy Sunday night last April. To be honest I was just curious but largely still uninterested but for some reason I just went along. All I knew about soup kitchens were long lines of the poor queuing up for watery soup at dinghy premises in the dodgier parts of town.

I was right about the lines though, but there wasn’t a dinghy kitchen or any soup at all. We load up a vending truck with pre-packed food supplied by a caterer before heading out to our recipients at a few locations close to the city centre. From then on it is a matter of preparing drinks on site, crowd control and distributing the food to the homeless.

It is quite a reality check when I realized there are just plenty of the homeless and the hardcore poor living in the same city as me. I always knew poverty existed in KL but not to the extent in which I have seen in the past year. I always looked but I never saw.

We have all sorts of people who come to get a meal from us, and we try our best to serve everyone who joins the line. As a rule of thumb we do not judge our recipients, only they know and Allah knows what went wrong along the way. Whatever mistakes they might have made with their lives or whatever misfortune that has befallen them does not extinguish the fact that they are human beings in need of help.

Initially I volunteered every now and then, never regularly. After Ramadan last year I decided I should do this more often and roped in a few like-minded friends, Alhamdulillah we are all regular volunteers now. One thing about soup kitchen we can all agree upon is that aside from the disadvantaged people we are out to help, it is a very rewarding and fulfilling experience for us volunteers as well.

Along the way we have all cultivated close friendships and we are a closely knit group from diverse backgrounds and age groups. Our youngest regular is 18 (he claims to be 19 though!) and the oldest is… (Let’s not go there!). We have volunteers hailing from Kampung Kerinchi all the way to Manchester.

We have along the way discovered the joy of giving and new friendships. Our most treasured gift yet is finding joy in doing something good and looking forward to it every week. I am pretty sure I am not alone in saying this; soup kitchen has now become the highlight of my week. It’s not a chore to score points with the Almighty anymore; it is just pure pleasure serving and being with likeminded people (we’re a very lively bunch too!).

I can go on and on till the cows come home, but my words will never do justice to what my eyes see. If for any reason this article has piqued your (yes YOU!!) interest come and join us one of these days and see for yourself what we are really up to. It’s a great chance to meet some really cool people and see a side of KL most of us choose not to see.

KL is not all about skyscrapers, shopping malls, fine dining and posh cars jetting thru elevated expressways. There are people out there living beneath the shadows in the margins of society, our fellow human beings. They are amongst the most vulnerable members of our society, how can we expect compassion unto ourselves when we fail to show it to others?



b2b_4ourty5ive said...

dear Shazeea, how can i join?

Shazeea said...

Salam. Sorry I just saw your message. Please see our FB page. and contact Zuhri Yuhyi

Learn Quraan said...

Masha Allah, May Allah be with you

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