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Every Thursday night, my thoughts often drift to two women. I'm sitting comfortably in my red, thinking tub-chair in my cosy bedroom, while these two noble living saints are out there working to make the lives of others more comfortable. Two particular courageous, spirited, outstanding women who are totally unpretentious, simple and unassuming in character, for whom I have so much respect that I am dedicating this post to them.

Every Thursday night, these two gutsy women together with a team of volunteers, selflessly sacrifice their time and contribute their energy towards making the lives of more than two hundred people a little, if not a whole lot better. Perhaps much more, as the sacrifices of this duo promises a full stomach, and some desperately needed hope and respite on those nights. Without fail, every Thursday night, they dish out freshly-cooked wholesome meals to the homeless in Kuala Lumpur.

I can safely say, or at least hope, that almost everyone reading this are in a position where you are able to get at least two solid meals in a day, unless you're on a crash diet that is. And there may be many out there who never even imagined that there are actually people "living" in the cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur who don't have homes, money, jobs...and at times even food to eat. Some may gasp in horror on knowing this, but continue with their lives without any further thought for these unfortunate people.

Walk around the streets of KL after midnight, and you are sure to meet conditions like this in many, many places.  Picture courtesy of Naga Timur.
Others may have the opinion that "it is through their own fault" that these people end up on the streets. Or perhaps it was "their own choice" even to live that way... very likely "these are people who don't have morals, discipline and education" and "succumbed to their lusts", "made stupid mistakes", "lost all their money on vices like gambling, alcohol and drugs." Or so it may seem. It's so easy to just make an assumption and judge. I can't blame those who think that way though, because I have to admit, shamefully, that at one time in my life, I had thought in the same way too.

But experience, challenges and mistakes have made me wiser. Forcing one's self to be more humble and open-minded can make one see things and people in a much wider perspective, and with a more sensible and realistic approach. And more importantly, view things from the spiritual and emotional aspect of things. I now realise that not everyone is destined to live comfortably throughout all of his or her life. No matter how high we studied in college or university, no matter how hard we worked at a job or a business, no matter how much money or property we have accumulated at a given moment, no one, no one can ever guarantee his or her own future after that. Each and everyone of us, at any one time, is just a snap of a finger away from sickness, calamity or misfortune. That is, if we believe in the existence of a Higher Power. If ever God Almighty decrees that we are stripped of all our wealth and worldly possessions in a blink of an eye, no one can defy His rule, no one can escape His wrath. It may happen in more ways than one, in ways we could never have imagined. But the frightening truth is, it can happen.

Whatever the circumstances, a majority of the homeless never asked, never wanted to be the way they are. Many are just simply unfortunate and are desperately trying to get out of destitution. But it is never easy; there always seem to be limitations, obstacles and negative influences which only continue to oppress. When there is not even a hint of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, life gets really cold, depressing and hopeless. Not just for a day or two, not even a week, but for an unknown period of time, and possibly even, till the end of his life. Every new day is simply an extension of the last - there is nothing to rejoice, nothing to look forward to, nothing to hope for.

Enn Faradh- her smile, her laugh and enthusiasm are her trademark.
Her compassion and her devotion to her voluntary work are her pillars
 of her life. Picture by Suhaiza Sue.
But when there is Sury Kassim and Enn Faradh Mokhtar there is light, and there is a chance for them to gain some strength to at least hope that their lives could turn for the better. For close to 250 homeless street people who converge at the Masjid Jamek in Kuala Lumpur every Thursday night, they are angels sent by God. And all because these two humanitarians spare a thought for all the hungry people who roam the streets of KL. That's it..that is all to it. There are no hidden agendas, political targets, ulterior objectives nor desire for glory or fame. They and the volunteers just possess a heart so pure they feel the need to fulfill their obligations in life by ensuring hungry people are provided with a hot meal so as to minimise their suffering. There is absolutely nothing that makes them more contented and fulfilled than to have filled an empty stomach.

"What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry,

 to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, 

and to remove the sufferings of the injured." 


Sury and Enn started as normal volunteers in the year 2007 with an organisation which ran a soup kitchen.
Later they got together with a few other people and formed Reach Org with the objective of reaching out to the homeless, and eventually taking them off the streets. It was in August 2010 that I had met Enn for the first time. Enn's enthusiasm was so contagious and her passion for what she does showed clearly from the way she spoke. I was so moved by her stories about their street-feeding experiences and for a whole week after that I was consumed by the knowledge that people with this kind of altruism truly existed, and I had met them in the flesh. Somehow I had felt that they were real life heroes. It made a massive impact on me. What they did/do was a really big deal to me and still is. And it made me feel that my life so far had been so insipid.
Don't mess around with this femme fatale! Not everyone has the strength and ability to
initiate and organise a soup kitchen each and every week.
Sury and I had been college mates and I hadn't met her since we graduated. But she hadn't changed much in appearance. It was a surprise meeting with her again after all those years and I was astounded that this slim, attractive woman was involved in philanthropy and was very active in voluntary work. That is the main factor of my admiration for the work she does - despite her high social profile, Sury is always on the ground, literally. She is on the streets with or without other volunteers, during each street-feeding session. It is very rare to see a founder of a voluntary organisation actually doing the work. Most will remain in the office while the other volunteers do the legwork. This is not the case with Sury. She knows each and every street-feeding route in Kuala Lumpur and walks through the backstreets and alleys to get to the homeless. She makes an effort to know them personally. She sits with them and talks to them. She listens to their problems and tries to find a solution for them. She also believes that there is good in everyone, and remains positive that people will always change for the better. This is something encrypted in Sury's belief system, that there is always a solution to every problem, so the stalwart that she is, she faces each and every challenge head-on. Many of us can't even handle our own problems, much less care for others'.
Sury and Enn are aided by very dedicated and capable volunteers.
On the 9th of July, 2011 the country almost faced an emergency situation when the Bersih 2.0 rally was held in the city. Major roads were closed and there were police blockades everywhere. It was a Saturday - the day Reach Out had always made three rounds of street-feeding. It seemed quite impossible to get onto the streets in the heart of KL with reports of massive jams everywhere. There was also the risk of street demonstrations and rioting. Sury was unperturbed by all the news and reports of the unrest and impending troubles. All she knew was that she couldn't allow the homeless to go hungry that night. With her trusted sidekick, Enn and whatever resources she managed to pull together, they braved the storm and the police blockades and managed to get food to their hungry, waiting clients that day.

A lighter side of Sury. She is seen here with donated  clothes to be distributed to an  orang asli community in  Royal Belum. By the way, Sury is a great cook and specialises in authentic Nasi Kerabu.

Besides the homeless, Sury and Enn are also very susceptible to appeals by any other people who are in need. In late November last year, Enn had spotted a post in Facebook about an orang asli community which had been cut-off from food supplies because the road leading to their village was no longer accessible by any vehicle. The Tok Batin of the village called  Kampung Tohai had made a personal appeal and in no time, Sury, Enn and their volunteers gathered clothes and foodstuff and made their way to this remote village in the deep jungles of Kelantan, somewhere in between Lojing and Gua Musang in eleven 4WD's.

Sury with the Tok Batin of Kampung Tohai. She has an exceptionally soft spot for the elderly.

Volunteers packing food and clothes for the orang asli  Kampung Tohai

Sury (in the foreground) posing with the very happy volunteers and orang asli of Kampung Tohai.

A woman from the orang asli community.

One other trait I find admirable in this formidable woman is her tenacity. Being the daughter of a high ranking army officer, her father very probably had a major role in moulding her disciplined character. And Sury too has a mind of her own and a good head on her shoulders. She was largely the mastermind in the previous organisation and made many crucial decisions in critical situations. She had initiated and organised a particularly unforgettable operation, carried out by a hurriedly formed emergency response team. Within two hours of receiving an SOS from Shyam Priah, leader of an NGO called Khatulistiwa, the team moved to Alor Star, Kedah during the floods in late 2010. There were people in the kampungs which were cut off by the floods and only heavy vehicles could get through. Upon arriving, they found themselves amongst a troop of soldiers who were there to give aid to flood victims. Sury didn't hesitate in getting the help of the army officer in charge and managed to get a truck and a driver deployed. They succeeded in getting foodstuff and other basic necessities gathered only just the night before to the villagers before any other volunteers from any other organisations.
This is Zul Paixi Nan. He is a Mat Rempit. He used to rempit aimlessly but since joining as a volunteer, Zul now feels he has a purpose in life as he has been given a big responsibility to carry. He has been elected the Chief Marshall on the midnight rounds.
Picture courtesy of Naga Timur

And this would be Mie Tompok. He is also a Mat Rempit whose life changed after he joined as a volunteer.
I met him at the group's HQ and later saw him eating on the floor at a corner of the room. When I asked him why he wasn't eating with the rest at the table, he told me that the homeless
always had to eat on the floor of the streets. I knew then that he had a big, big heart, and it was with them.
Picture courtesy of Naga Timur

Even without these heroic adventures, my highest respect and admiration go to Sury and Enn for their tireless effort in ensuring the feeding never stops. Week after week they churn out dry food packets and rice packs complete with drinks and fruits. Sury always insists on the food being fresh and hot. If they turn up cold, she nonchalantly rejects them. She isn't in the least worried about how her contributors or donaters would react, her concern is only in giving her clients a hot meal.

Enn gets her strength by giving, she strongly believes that therein lies the
  happiness; it is not in the receiving as many tend to believe.

Enn is a most wonderful character, and it comes with a most beautiful smile. On the surface, Enn seems to be one tough cookie. She can take command of a hundred or more street people on her own, and with a voice with a built-in magnifier, no one dares create any trouble when she is around. But inside of Enn is a most sincere, gentle and caring heart. There was something Enn said which got my highest respect of her. It clearly reflected her character, and it is the reason, the strength that enables her to continue with the voluntary work week after week. When I told Sury and Enn I wanted to write this post, initially they had their reservations. But when I explained that my intention was to inspire others to do the same, they were delighted. It was then Enn had said, "We hope there would be someone who could take over what we are doing, and we hope the person could do it even better than us."

Simply put, these women are totally sincere in what they do, are very God conscious and are not in the least egocentric. They're not in it for the power and glory. They don't expect any recognition from anyone and they don't have the slightest need to be known as the founders and prime movers of the project. Sury especially, is normally found somewhere behind the scene, fused among the homeless and volunteers; a newcomer couldn't possibly guess that she is the one behind the whole project. 

Sury and Enn have since resigned from Reach Out. They have founded a brand new street-feeding volunteer group, called 1Charity, and this time they collaborate with Masjid Jamek Kuala Lumpur and JAWI. Here, Sury and Enn are able to make their own decisions, but are still very open to ideas and suggestions from the volunteers. The group first started by literally feeding on the streets, outside the gates of the Masjid Jamek. However when an imam of the mosque learnt about their activities, he graciously invited the group to conduct the feeding within the mosque grounds.

Thanks to Ustaz Izwan bin Sharif, or Ustaz Wan as he is fondly known, and also the main imam of the Masjid Jamek Ustaz Mohd Faisal bin Tan Mutallib , their kindheartedness not only allows the group to feed the homeless, but they are now also able to serve their clients freshly cooked food prepared from a (barely equipped) soup kitchen in the mosque grounds.

Distributing used clothing collected by the volunteers.
Picture by Naga Timur
They also now have enough resources to do feeding two nights a week, that is, Thursdays and Fridays. Since they are now able to cook on the premises of the mosque, the packed food provided by JAWI is distributed to the homeless in further parts of KL. This is where a group of bikers who volunteer to do the rounds have become an asset to the organisation as they are very mobile and are able to access the smaller lanes. I must also highlight and commend the contributions and tireless efforts of the JAWI officers: Ustaz Baharuddin bin Idris and Ustaz Khairul Anuwar bin Mustaffa. JAWI has been so kind to contribute 200 packs of rice meals every week. Their commitment to the 1Charity project and activities is truly a blessing from Allah.

Hygiene is not compromised even though the food is for the poor and homeless.
Picture by Naga Timur

Dedicated volunteers prepare the food systematically and efficiently. 
Picture by Naga Timur

This dedication to Sury and Enn is in conjunction with the recent formation of 1Charity. To Sury and Enn: may the both of you be guided, protected and given the strength to continue all the good you are doing now, and may the both of you be blessed forever.

"You give but little when you give of your possessions. 

It is when you give of yourself that you 

truly give." 
 Kahlil Gibran

1Charity is open to donations in cash and kind; dry food such as instant noodles, individually wrapped biscuits and clothing. At the moment they are also in dire need of kitchen utensils such as hotplates for grilling, big woks and pots, large ladles and spatulas. Thank you for taking the time to read this.



i saw my picture there.. anyway.. keep posting...

28 February, 2012 19:01  

Thanks Kuchalana, you're the one doing a great job.

29 February, 2012 08:25  

alhamdulllah........... :)

29 February, 2012 13:38  

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