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  • Writer's pictureAMTCT

Learning from the homeless...

Not long ago Shihan Yap initiated the "Feed the Homeless" movement among our group.  We were asked to go out and buy food for those in need. Many students volunteered.

We bought rice, water and delivered to the homeless on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Shihan set very strict guideline for us who are going. We must go in pair of 2 person. Not more, not less. Initially we could not comprehend why must we go in small group. But we followed as instructed. We are not an NGO that feed the homeless in large group, on regular basis. It was the first time for us. We were nervous in our first outing. We didn't know whether we would meet anyone, or what to expect. Shihan said just follow your heart, go where your heart takes you, do what your heart tells you to do.

It turned out to be more than just an act of kindness. It was a learning experience for all of us.

Society tends to carry a lot of negative impressions about the homeless. Most people would think that they are dirty, lazy, that they are just worm to the society. Most would even think that they end up on the street because they are evil, or having some kind of mental issues.

Frankly, if we were walking on the street and see a homeless, don't we try to avoid them? Or we just walk past pretending that they were not there? How many would actually go forward and talk to them? How many would care for them and see what they need, see whether it is within our means to help them? Most of us don't. Majority would despise them and look down upon them.

Is Greediness a human nature?

When we approached them and offered food and water, it surprised us to find that they are not greedy at all. If they have already eaten, they would not take the food from us to keep for the next meal. Some of them have sufficient drinking water, and they would gently reject the water offered by us.

They only take what they need.

When we asked them what do they need, initially we expected them to say they need money, or demand for money. But none of them did. Its been two weeks since we started this movement, and we have talked to more than 50 homeless, NONE of them asked for money.

To have an open mind and not to have pre-conceived ideas helped us connect with the homeless profoundly.

One old man in his 70s said he wanted to live in an old folks home; one man asked to help inform his family that he is still alive and okay; most of them wanted job. Yes, most do want to work!

Since young we were taught that we must be a successful person; to earn as much as we can; to have big houses and big cars. In this society, one's success is judged by what material possession he has.

Because of that, we wanted more of everything. Those who have a house wants a bigger house; those who have a big house want more houses; those who have 10 thousands in the bank want 100 thousands; those who have 100 thousands want a million; those who have a million want 10 millions!...the rat race chase never ends. Through the process of this chase we lost our health, our family, and our happiness. We are never happy because our "needs and wants" list gets bigger and bigger.

Looking at the homeless men, they don't even chase after the next meal. Their needs are only for basic survival, hence they are happy when that is achieved.

A little story

One middle aged man has been on the street for one and a half years. He was diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago. All his children are married and having family of their own. He doesn’t want to trouble his family and therefore chose to live on the street.

He once found a job as security guard. But was terminated one week later when the employer found out that he has cancer and has to use a colostomy bag.

He only has a bag pack with some changing clothes, and an old bed sheet for him to sleep on. If it rains at night, he would have to run to find shelter at the underground car park around the corner.

When we met him, he was having fever and an injured leg because of the heavy rain the previous night, and fell down as he was running towards the underground car park.

When he was talking about this, he did not show any despair. When we left he uttered words of blessings to us with a smile on his face. We could only feel peace and gratitude from him.

The Fear

We generally perceive homeless people as dirty and smelly, sad, cynical, lazy!...etc.

When we first approached them, some of them do have a stronger odor. As we spent time with them, slowly the smell doesn't affect us anymore. Perhaps they just do not have sufficient changing cloth. Surprisingly most of them do not have a strong smell. Just like any other individuals, we would meet in our daily life: some have a stronger odor; some smell nice with expensive perfume; most do not have any outstanding smell.

They enjoy our company and conversation with us.

Initially, some of us dared not touch them. But later on, we even put our arms around them.

All the homeless men we talked to were very friendly. Some are more chatty than others; some just want food and nothing else, but they are just friendly. All our initial perception of them have totally turned around during these visits.

Shihan always teaches us to have an open mind, do not hold any pre-conceived ideas. We are so used to forming conclusion before things happen. If we were to hold back because of these pre-conceived ideas, we would not have experienced such great time with the homeless and learned so much from them.

Here we are, complaining about unfairness in the society, inferior because our smartphone is not as good as our friend's, cursing over what we don't have and our little obstacle in life. We should be grateful for what we have, be grateful that we have a roof over our heads, be grateful that we have a job and family. Or simply, be grateful that we can still breath. We who have many yet we still want more and give so little.

They taught us about life, about our fear, our self-created cocoons.

We have much to learn from them. Emotional Relief

Having talked to them make us realized that they enjoy company like everyone else. Those chatty ones love to talk. They talk about themselves, about life.

More than food it is the care and the attention that they value the most.

After chatting with them, we can see that they are relieved. It is nice having to know that someone listens; the feeling of love and care warms their hearts.

We doubt many people are willing to talk to them. When we were talking to them and doing healing for them, passerby throws us strange looks; some stopped and see what we were doing; some even throw comments like "hey are so brave" if we were there talking to wolf that would eat our bones.

We came to understand that they want care more than food. There are many organizations that bring them food on regular basis. Most of them beg or do odd jobs which give them some basic income.

Giving them food, we fill their stomach for a few hours. However the care and attention we gave them warm their hearts for many days.

Pain Relief

Whenever we met those with physical issues, for example, injuries, swollen legs, fever, discomfort, etc., we offered energy healing to them. Most of them accepted with an open mind.

He suffered from swollen knee and stomach discomfort. After healing, his discomfort was relieved, and knee pain had improved.

Most of them are sensitive towards energy. Some commented they felt warm. All of them felt some form of relief after a healing session.

When we offered energy healing to them, only one rejected, fearing that it may contradict with his belief system. The rest all accepted with gratitude.

And the results were amazing!

We couldn't help but wonder, why are we so skeptical when it comes to energy healing? We are skeptical about things we cannot see; about things that are not conforming to the norm. Unknowingly we bind ourselves with the norms and fail to see a wider world beyond the common.

He had difficulty walking. After giving him healing he could stand up easily without help. He told us that usually it takes him a long time to stand up.

The homeless just accepted, and the outcome had brought them so much joy.

After the first outing, one of our therapist said, "This is what I should have done long time ago, instead of sitting in front of the computer surfing the net."

We have learnt so much more from them compared to what we are giving them. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn and to serve. They are a mirror that reflect the lessons we learn about life.

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