Dirty. Disturbed. Deranged. Just a few words mass society uses to relate to the homeless. The word ‘normal’ is not one of them. In recent years, giving back to society has risen in popularity, appealing to the part of our humanity which genuinely wants to help.
One of the easiest ways is to go out to the streets at night in the city areas to feed the city’s homeless. Coined up term as ‘street-feeding’, it is becoming a thing to do to do on weekends by going out to donate food to those in need or joining the KL Street Feeders on weekdays. However this is slowly becoming a trend rather than solely an act of charity. Food have been seen tossed at the recipient and multiple selfies taken even before they actually received it. At times half the food on the weekends went to waste due to an access amount. Having the simple pleasure of good company which at times meant more than food was often missing.
From this conflict came an idea to Joycelyn Lee, who founded the Pit Stop Community Café, located in a small unassuming shoplot in Jalan Tun H. S. Lee which serves hearty foods that feel like your mom’s cooking. In the evening, this simple café turns into a safe haven for the city’s homeless.
Their doors open for volunteers to serve good, wholesome food to the people who struggle to find any. There they are welcomed to hot food and supplies, company amongst themselves and conversation with volunteers – regardless of race or religion. I joined the team of volunteers and though I never discriminated them, I realized just how normal they could be.
One young man helped one of the volunteers open the doors. Another helped the volunteers with the distribution of clothes and blankets. One joked about how he didn’t want bread because he was watching his diet and one of them even left me with a toothy grin. Then they all sat down at the allocated tables to talk to each other with loud conversations with laughter. And when they wanted seconds, they went back to the back of the line.
People think of estranging the homeless because they are seem to be scared, different. But the reality of the fact is that most of them are no different from us, merely less privileged.
Pit Stop Community Café serves not only as a neutral ground for these misunderstood people to feel safe for a little while and live almost normally but also as a platform for those who genuinely want to help those who need it. It wasn’t just an experience, it was a revelation to have volunteered there. I left knowing somehow in some small way I had made somebody’s day a little better.