KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Good Samaritans are being told to stop their random acts of generosity for the homeless and urban poor to avoid problems like cleanliness, food wastage and uneven distribution of aid.
Kechara Soup Kitchen project director Justin Cheah said it was important to have an organised system.
“The issue with showing up randomly with food is that one area could end up having a lot of food while another does not get any. While the intention is good, they are not helping but instead, creating more problems.
“Kechara has a feeding schedule to ensure an even food distribution. It took us years to learn about the homeless and what kind of help they need. It is beyond food — they need counselling, medical aid and many others,” he told Malay Mail.
He said he had tried approaching random groups of people who were dropping off food to discuss possible cooperation but was met with negative reactions.
“The response is never good. Most of the time they would tell me they just want to be left alone or that they were just there to drop the food off,” he said.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had asked charitable groups to lend a helping hand only through appropriate channels.
He said on Saturday many donors were sadly not responsible enough to clean up, leaving rubbish and food leftovers lying around in public places.
Tengku Adnan also said Malaysians should not be “enablers” by providing too much assistance to the needy because it makes them comfortable and lazy.
Pertiwi Soup Kitchen founder Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid said if the public did not want to cooperate with existing soup kitchens, they should consider distributing food with longer shelf lives like bread or biscuits.
“You have to know how to prepare and pack these foods — something I learned after spending years with them. Half of the time they get food already spoiled. Probably because it was prepared much earlier, coupled with the country’s humidity. You can’t expect the homeless to take food that are no longer edible.
“If you don’t want to work with us (soup kitchens), just make sure the food is edible and will not give them health problems like stomach aches or food poisoning later,”she said.
Munirah added there were several NGOs handing out gifts like toothbrushes, strollers, clothes and toiletries which created a bad culture that affected the urban poor children especially.
“These kids have already missed out a lot in life so they don’t want to miss out on ‘free gifts’. That is why we see kids of school-going age loitering around town, way past their bedtime. They stay up in hopes that people will come bearing gifts,” she said.
She said most of the said gifts would end up being sold in pasar karat (flea markets) and the money will be handed over to the parents.
“How many toothbrushes or strollers can they have? We are really encouraging these kids to have wrong values in life.
“You think you are being kind by showing up with gifts, but there are repercussions to your actions. We have to think thoroughly,” she said.