Hope for the Homeless

15 December 2016

On top of providing the homeless with a place to stay, Pusat Transit Gelandangan Kuala Lumpur also helps its residents get back on their feet.
Sometimes, the notion that things will get better for the homeless seems impossible to achieve. Yet, with a helping hand or two, these individuals can get back on their feet. Pusat Transit Gelandangan KL (PTGKL) is here to extend that hand.

Located on Jalan Pahang in Kuala Lumpur, PTGKL is the result of a multi-pronged initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Federal Territories with some help from other governmental ministries and non-governmental agencies. With two floors of dormitories, the three-storey centre also features a small library, children’s play area, prayer rooms, and a dining area where NGOs distribute food daily.

The dormitories are partially open to the wind and breeze. Amir Rudin Abdul Rahman, the lead operator of PTGKL says, “This place was built with an open-air concept in mind. We learned that the homeless may feel trapped and confined within walled areas.”

Pointing to the lockers in the dormitories, he explains, “They can keep their valuables here. Sometimes, it’s hard for them to trust each other.”

“On the ground floor, we have a dining area and a lounge with a small library here. The kids’ play area is the result of an idea from NGO advisors,” Amir Rudin says, adding that the centre also provides basic first aid treatment in an on-site medical treatment room. Residents who require more treatments are sent to Hospital Kuala Lumpur, which is just across the street.

With a low barrier concept in place, the centre is open 24/7 to all Malaysians who find themselves without a home. The operating team at PTGKL notes that the reasons many people find themselves on the streets are many and varied.

Some run away from their families, while others become homeless after being evicted. “There are people who come here from East Malaysia because they’ve been promised jobs but when they do, the ‘employer’ disappears,” Amir Rudin adds.

The operating team at PTGKL assesses each case and looks for solutions to the issues and concerns these individuals have. They then refer each case to an NGO or a governmental agency best suited to alleviate any remaining issues, be it low-cost housing, employment or motivation.

The centre also cooperates with many NGOs to boost the residents’ social, financial, and living skills.

Justin Cheah, the project director of Kechara Soup Kitchen Society, explains, “We refer clients to PTGKL for either temporary stay or candidates that are suitable for job placements. We also hold skills and training programmes with PTGKL.”

According to Aziz Juhairi, a Merci Culinary representative, the NGO teaches the residents basic culinary skills. Counselling services are also available. Another local NGO, Unggas Kuala Lumpur aids the centre by counselling pregnant teenagers and giving aid where needed.

“We also have a further intervention programme called Rumah Bimbingan to encourage them to be more independent by living in low-cost houses together,” says Amir Rudin. “Four people stay in one house and they pay RM30 per month each. It teaches them how to pay rent.”

PTGKL residents who are productive yet remain homeless may also move to Anjung Singgah, a shelter for the homeless, whenever they are ready.

But the centre doesn’t stop at connecting their residents with better economic and social opportunities. In many cases where the residents have been temporarily displaced, perhaps due to unresolved family issues, members of the operating team visit the family members to reconnect the residents with their families.

When asked how the public could contribute, Amir Rudin notes, “For money, you can donate directly. For food, we don’t advise the public to go to the streets to feed the homeless. We want to avoid wastage. If they want [to feed the homeless], they can talk to the NGOs. Any individual who wants to do charity work can go to NGOhub.asia. We don’t want people to think of feeding only when they think of the homeless.”

From its inception last February until now, PTGKL is so far doing a good job at alleviating homelessness.

“I don’t have a family. At least I have friends here,” says Tang, a 46-year-old resident. “I’m very satisfied. They’re already doing a good job. A lot of NGOs come and help.”

Visit Pusat Transit Gelandangan Kuala Lumpur’s Facebook page to find out how you can contribute.

By Zoe Liew

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