Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This City is Haunted By Ghosts.....

Borrowing a line from a song by Alexis On Fire, the title if written whole would be, that “ This city, this city is haunted, by ghosts from broken homes. This city, this city is haunted, there’s no hope, left for these souls.” The title of this song is also aptly named, “This could be Anywhere in the world’. Seemed like an ordinary hardcore song. However the lyrics remain more poignant than they should be for a song of this nature and is hauntingly striking, if we look beyond our comfort zones.

As we lay on our comfortable beds, in our air conditioned rooms and ponder upon our everyday problems; on how we lack the materialistics, Ipods, PS2’s and how little we earn for so much of work that we do; we ramble on with our personal problems. How trivial are they then compared to those people who struggle with their lives daily, trying to feed themselves with the meek earnings that they have. Only recently have I felt that there are people who need hope, perhaps much more than others, where survival is nothing more than everyday struggle to be fed. In 2005, there is an estimate of at least 100 million homeless people in this world.

I’ve seen homeless children. Orphans. Interacting with them. They are much easier to reach out. Still young and ever eager to see the world.You see, I joined my LF to this outreach called KAWAN located in the heart of the city. It’s a drop-in for the homeless where they are fed. I was invited and I took this chance perhaps to do some ‘charity’. Or so I thought I would. I thought, ‘Hey…I’ve been to an orphanage. How hard can it be? Its gonna be a walk in the park.” When we reached the centre, for the first time, I felt what it is like to live on the streets. I mean I didn’t experience living on the streets, but judging from the conditions of the area where KAWAN is located, its not as easy as I thought. At the point, I knew I was humbled. How arrogant was I into thinking that all is fine. It isn’t.

Many things went through my mind. Were these people hostile? Some of them could have been drug addicts and even perhaps the question of the realities of AIDS arising. It did went through my mind. This is much different from dealing with children. These are people who have gone through so much in life. These are people who are as old as our grandparents. And there are those who are younger. Their hearts hardened and weathered by the harsh living conditions. Poverty, hopelessness seemed an integral part of their lives. And it was at that moment that I decided to try to bring myself to do what I can for these people. We had a praise and worship session .We did some sharing, a skit on the parable of the Prodigal Son, which is perhaps a New Testament classic. It was in Cantonese. We acted it out while Eddy, narrated. It was most fun and encouraging especially when we saw that there are some who have heard of this parable before and giving some feedback. And then there are those who are weary from a days work of survival and just waiting for the food. When dinner was served, we took the opportunity to mingle with the crowd. It wasn’t easy, well at least for me, as I tried to choose a common topic to talk about. And when I did, I learnt that these folks have much to tell, and have much to let out. About lessons in life, and how not to stray onto the wrong path. And when it was time to leave, we say our goodbyes and vowed to come back soon. My eyes, to say the least were opened. I confided with some of my LF members and they too told me that it wasn’t an easy task initially. But with their perseverance and their genuine care for these people, it wasn’t impossible to deal with.

There are many homeless people out there. People with real needs. They do not need computers. They do not need PDAs, notebooks, a Gucci wallet or an LV handbag. They need food. They need to survive. They need more than Charity. They need God’s Word. They need hope. Our cities are haunted with ghosts from broken homes. How they are homeless, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they have families who have disowned them. Perhaps they have lived on the streets for far too long, and forgotten what it was that had put them there in the first place. It is a sad state of affairs. Perhaps we need a welfare state. A system where these people can be taken care of. All this of course is yet to be seen. Right now, it’s the NGOS who are picking up the pieces, and I really do have the admiration for them on how they dedicate their lives for this cause. However we all know that admiration alone is not enough. Perhaps we need to act, to make change in things such as these. And we need to complain less about our trivialities. Try to be more aware that your problems are not the biggest in the world.

As I wait for my next trip to KAWAN, I’m writing this post, as a reminder of the people who have genuine needs. Once again they need a lot and especially Salvation and grace, not only from God, but from the people around them. I don’t know what my next step is, but I know that whatever it is, it would be a step to do my part for the people who need help. “ THIS CITY IS HAUNTED BY GHOSTS FROM BROKEN HOMES.” And THIS COULD BE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. So perhaps the next time you have an encounter, what would your part be?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A change, A belief and a New Dawn

Its been a month and 8 days after the General Elections. History was made. Malaysian democracy was finally evident. Who could forget the events that lead up to the climatic twist in the outcome of the elections. The BERSIH rally, the HINDRAF rally, the Vigil for the ISA detainees, the police crackdowns , the fiery pre –election speeches on both camps, and the forums organized by various church groups in light of the political climate in Malaysia which has taken its turn for the worst. The general election was about to become another day where BN
would prevail, and that was the thought of many, no matter how much we hoped that it will not be reality.

Days before the election, after futsal with my mates, we had a discussion on the outcome of the General Elections. It’s a lost cause some say. The only way that things can change is if there is a coup, probably similar to the one that had happened in Thailand where Thaksin was ousted. A Coup. That would be undemocratic. But then in Thailand, that was what happened and whatever the method was, the desired effect was achieved. Which had us wondering, if a coup was really needed, and we concluded, that it’s a done deal for BN in the elections judging from the news spun by the countries infamous spin doctors, our very own newspapers on the walkovers of the constituencies. Like injured badminton players, they conceded defeat without even fighting. The Warong Fikir in which one of my friends, Colin Pal, organized a video/film session where the forgotten history of Hartal 1969 was told. A film by Fahmi Redza titled ‘10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka’, it chronicled on the events that happened before independence and the parties that fought for the independence, whether it be right-wing parties or left wing ideologies. One thing was certain, both these camps had one thing in common and a common fight; Independence for Malaysia. Today, we don’t fight for independence but for a better Malaysia. But we have taken all these for granted. And that’s where a new fight begins. To strip the powers that be who have taken their appointments for granted and being too big headed for their hats. And thus, the build up the general election, was to create an awareness of what is happening in this country and to awake all those who are in slumber or have been sitting on the fence.

The outcome to say the least,was UNEXPECTED. True, we have expected more votes for the opposition but not 5 states. I guess there is no need to mention which states fell, since now, most of us are more politically aware of what is happening around us. 5 states! Who would have imagined? People prevailed. Democracy prevailed. No coup. Finally the ghosts of May 13 have been exorcised. The ruling coalition conducted a post mortem of the defeat. Was it really necessary? They knew what was going wrong with the country. They see it, but yet too arrogant to admit. They have, for one, underestimated the might of the people. Haris Ibrahim coined the term Barisan Rakyat, which goes to show from whom the party coalitions in the Barisan Rakyat garner their support from, the People. The Barisan Rakyat is now called the Pakatan Rakyat. They have settled their indifferences, at least at this point in time. The hardest was perhaps Perak where the opposition won by a small margin, a close call, 3 state seats. The baptism of fire came in the appointment of the Menteri Besar. And in the end, Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin came through as the MB. That is the first test. The next and bigger test would now be the performance of the Opposition ruled parties in the next 4 years. And I believe if they would come through, hold on to their promises, then they can be the next ruling coalition.

Black 14 recently marked the return of Anwar after a long exile from politics. In no small manner, he had played a major role in the Pakatan Rakyat. The questions now arise; is he going to be the next PM, and if he does, is he going to abide by his manifesto, that Malaysia be free of the racial political structure which had been in our lives throughout but yet forced to deny it? Or he is another sly fox, wanting absolute power for himself? If it is for the former, then I will say that he can have my vote anytime. Perhaps I would give him the benefit of the doubt. Afterall, this man has gone through hell and back which may have played a part of him re-inventing himself. People say a leopard do not change its spots, but mind you, we are talking about a man and not a leopard. People are capable of change after going through life-altering events. And perhaps I would give him that. I truly hope for a better country. Where the welfare of the people are its prime objectives. If this man can do it, then he has my vote. However, things remain to be seen and if ever the Pakatan Rakyat decides to go down the spiraling road in which BN went, then, the people, once again should deny abuse of power and not be bullied anymore. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

I end this posting with what we are all familiar with, if we have watched V for Vendetta. It’s a good movie and I think everyone, being citizens of their respective countries should watch it.

'People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid.' of their people.

Good times indeed - November 10th 2007 BERSIH RALLY