Place for hot meals and care

> Kechara Soup Kitchen pro­vides food, med­i­cal as­sis­tance to the home­less, ur­ban poor


KUALA LUMPUR: As a di­sheveled man en­ters the premises of Kechara Soup Kitchen, Justin Cheah quickly grabs a pack of the packed lunch and hands it to the man.

Cheah, 41, who works with Kechara full-time, said the man is men­tally un­sound and comes reg­u­larly for his meals at the kitchen.

The big­gest chal­lenge, Cheah said, is deal­ing with the men­tally un­sound.

“The hos­pi­tals have lim­ited space to keep them for treat­ment. Of­ten, fam­i­lies can­not han­dle a men­tally un­sta­ble per­son and they will give up, so where else can they go but the streets.”

Cheah said the non-re­li­gious com­mu­nity ac­tion group re­lies on vol­un­teers for about 90% of its daily op­er­a­tions, which are of­ten more than just feed­ing the home­less and the ur­ban poor.

Kechara pre­pares about 200 packs of food daily for the home­less who start lin­ing up at about 11am for their meals.

“The home­less and the ur­ban poor come in for lunch and to do their laun­dry. We also pro­vide med­i­cal as­sis­tance,” he added.

Although Kechara does not have a full-time doctor, the staff take blood pres­sure read­ings, and if needed, take the per­son for med­i­cal at­ten­tion at a nearby clinic or Hos­pi­tal Kuala Lumpur.

Cheah said when nec­es­sary, Kechara will pay for the treat­ment.

“Some­times (we have) no choice. Peo­ple with all kinds of ail­ments come to the kitchen seek­ing help.”

Cheah said there was a home­less wo­man who had pus ooz­ing from her body which had a hor­ri­ble stench.

“She had stage four breast cancer and her breast had rup­tured.

“She also seemed to have lost her mem­ory,” he said.

“Work­ing with the Na­tional Reg­is­tra­tion Depart­ment, we man­aged to trace her brother who is now tak­ing care of her.”

Cheah says Kechara pre­pares about 200 packs of food daily.

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