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The Reach Org logo on its founder

That’s it...I’m hooked. I’m totally hooked.  I still can’t figure out what it is exactly that excites me and drives me to this state of becoming passionate about Reach Org and this new found activity.
One thing for sure, I am easily affected and influenced by images, and the Reach Org logo was definitely an image that had attracted me from the very beginning.  The impact hit me right in my heart and down to the guts of my stomach. It speaks volumes about the organization; the vibrations I received from it were only inspiring, uplifting and positive ones. The very first time I saw the logo I had felt that this organization had a big mission, and that the way to achieve it was through love, compassion, sincerity, steadfastness, tolerance and true friendship. 

And yes, the leaders and members of Reach Org are undeniably epitomes of these. That’s what makes their Street Food Programme so enjoyable, for me at least. They share a common belief that all poor, homeless people, regardless of race and religion, without prejudice and discrimination, need a form of respite. Before this, I have never seen such a show of genuine care and attention given to those living on the streets. Amongst the members themselves, there is much laughter and fostering of close friendships, and the sense of comradeship is very evident.   

On my outing with them last Saturday, I had tried to squeeze some secrets out of Pete, the founder of Reach Org, as to what made him delve into volunteer work for the homeless with such passion. To initiate and manage a programme such as this needs boundless spiritual, emotional, mental and physical energy. There must be a driving factor that is a resource for him to create, sustain and project these energies not only for himself but to all those within the group. 
Pete in a serious mood, telling me about the harsh realities of street living and people. Pic by Jeff

I didn’t get a specific answer from Pete that night. He didn’t seem to want to talk about the past. He just spoke of his vision of what he wants Reach Org to achieve now and in the future. He has all his plans laid out and strategies in order; I reckon he would be using all his experience, training, knowledge and skills he acquired during his career in the Police force. His attire is definitely proof of this!

Walking alongside Pete with his "chota" and army boots, I'm not afraid of any big, bad wolf that might pounce on me!

At that moment, I saw another side of Pete; the very serious side of him. Before this he came on as a very jovial and comical person, with a thick Scottish accent to match. But where work is concerned, there are no loose ends with Pete. He is on top of things and is always in total control of the situation. 

Back to my curiosity about the reasons behind the creation of Reach Org, I just had to concur that, there is no reason. There is no need for a reason. It just needs to be done. Pete, I stand corrected.

I mulled over it and finally arrived at this. If we look for reasons to do things other than for ourselves, we would also look for excuses not to, especially in situations where sacrifice is required of us. Thus we actually create within ourselves, obstacles, limitations, difficulties and delays in our efforts to achieve a better life.

The truth is, when we do things for others selflessly, without expecting anything in return, we create a totally new dimension in our own lives, an elevation and extension of the previous one, filled with a sense of love, peace, harmony, happiness, contentment and everlasting joy.  These feelings will come from within us, and will remain in us, regardless of any shortcomings in life. They are not dependant on other people or materialistic gains, which grant only superficial and/or short-lived gratification. Doesn’t makes any sense?  Maybe not, but I’m very sure Reach Org members will know exactly what I mean.

That night was the acid test of my self-declared commitment to do volunteer work with Reach Org. For me, making a commitment means my Saturday and Monday nights are dedicated to this programme. It’s not an agenda only “when there is nothing else to do”.  But that night, I had actually already fallen blissfully asleep on the oh-so-comfy sofa. For a moment, upon waking up, I had contemplated on whether I should go... and there were many excuses not to. Among others, I was feeling tired, having had a long day in the clinic, it was a Saturday night, Hari Raya was still being celebrated everywhere with open houses, and it was raining. And how I love to be at home on rainy nights! 

I thought a call to N, Director and Team Leader of Reach Org, and listening to her booming voice might jolt me into gear, but the call went unanswered. The heart was so willing to go on the streets to be with the homeless friends that night, but the body defied and begged otherwise.  Trying very hard to shake off the heaviness, and laziness if you must, I reminded myself that I had waited anxiously for this Saturday night; I was not about to give in to this selfishness and evil nafs to fulfill my own pleasure and comfort!
Me in the Reach Org tee. Pic by Jeff Orr
The turning point was the T-shirt; the instant I saw the bright, cheerful and inspirational logo on the T-shirt in my cupboard, nothing could stop me from joining the Reach Org members on this cold, rainy night. For whatever reasons, I  had felt much pride donning the T-shirt as I was proud to be with Reach Org. I felt important, I was going to represent this organization and make more than one person happy that night. I was going to make someone feel that he/she mattered enough for me to be out in the rain on a cold and wet Saturday night. 

Once in my Reach Org t-shirt, I was supercharged and ready to take on the streets of KL. Lightning streaked across and down the dark skies menacingly and strong winds whipped through the trees, but the threat of a brewing storm couldn’t match my enthusiasm.

I waited for (Datin) Sury and N at the Reach Org Centre in Damansara Utama and it was almost midnight when they arrived, together with a new member, Chik. The rain was getting heavier, but it was not about to dampen our spirits. We headed for Restoran  Aji, next to Menera Maybank where Pete, Jeff and wife Ling, Jaja, Amin, Naomi and Ash were already waiting. The rain got even heavier for a while, and as we waited for it to subside, Zahidah a friend of mine, who had read about the organization on this blog, appeared.
Amin, an Iranian medical student and dedicated volunteer and Jaja, boisterous and most hardworking Team Leader

Zahidah, who was nursing a bout of flu, had driven all the way from Ampang by herself to join the street feeding programme. For her determination, I take off my hat to her. After an introduction to everyone around the table, N briefed Zahidah on street feeding “etiquette” and rules.  Among others, we are not to awaken sleeping clients, and their food packets are to be quietly placed next to them. We are not to step on their “beds”- normally made of flattened carton boxes or newspapers. For obvious reasons, we have to always work in a team, at the very least, in a pair wherever we are.

Having been feeding the street people every week without fail for the past two years, Reach Org and its members are known among most of the clients. Wearing the corporate t-shirts made members even more recognizable.

As the rain subsided to a drizzle, we set out in five cars. The usual routes on this midnight run included Jalan Pudu, Brickfields, Dayabumi, Klang Bus Terminal, Kotaraya, Jalan Masjid India and Masjid Negara. In most places, we saw much fewer people than normal, as most had probably gone inside buildings to find drier and warmer places to sleep.  

It was almost 4a.m. when we gave out the last packet of food around Kotaraya and Menara Maybank. As usual, all the members were still in high spirits at the end of the midnight route, especially with Pete and Jaja endlessly creating a racket with their bantering.
Who wouldn't like working with a happy bunch of people like these?
 From left, Jeff, N, Chik, Zahida and Pete
This is it, I thought, the esprit de corps, this is perhaps the most important factor that appealed to me and attracted me to be a part of the group. There is a common desire and aspiration to make life a little better for others not as fortunate. True to their word, in the early hours of that Sunday morning, Reach Org was there to deliver, even in cold and wet conditions, food, comfort and compassion to homeless people in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. 

Above, me and Datin Sury, co-founder and Director. Below, Naomi and Ash

There are many words to describe the good in these volunteers, but the obvious that came to my mind, is this - their selfless devotion, a virtue that will be very hard to find in any other individual or group, which is also the essence of Reach Org. These are the people who really know the true meaning of caring.


Once again we are deeply touched by your observations. It sometimes takes a while for volunteers to really get the core of Reach Org but I must say it has come very quickly in your case and that is a wonderful thing.
Your writing flows and tells the situation not only as you see it but also as we see it and that is amazing as each individuals perspective often differs considerably.
Your correct, there is no considered reason for what Reach Org does except that it needs to be done. We dont analyse and justify what we do, it is just done because there is a need and we believe it is the right thing to do.
Great article and love the boots photo!! Thanks again for your observations.


22 September, 2010 10:47  

Were these pixs taken with your Olympus? Forgot to tweak the settings yesterday afternoon..I've remembered to try something.

23 September, 2010 13:31  

Wow all I can say is that you are a great writer! Where can I contact you if I want to hire you?

06 December, 2010 11:36  

Hi - I am really happy to discover this. cool job!

07 June, 2011 00:39  

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