RYTHM Foundation provides employment opportunities for the homeless in Malaysia
Social stigma and discrimination against people with HIV continues to be the main concern for those who champion their rights and access to healthcare.
Persatuan Kebajikan Umum Malaysia (PKKUM) is an NGO that works closely with people affected and infected by HIV, the unemployed, the homeless, and the transgender community.
PKKUM founder Elisha Kor Krishnan who set up a Centre for people in these marginalised groups at Chow Kit, a notorious area in Kuala Lumpur, said some of the concerns include the loss of identity cards, sexual harassment, stateless children, physical abuse as well as mental health.
Social stigma has driven many of them underground, making it difficult to reach out and help.
“We started this drop-in Centre in 2013 to help the marginalised and minority communities, especially those living with HIV and other infectious diseases. This Centre serves as a safe place for them to seek treatment, have a decent meal and rest,” Elisha Kor said.
RYTHM Foundation joined hands with PKKUM to support their outreach activities through a food programme. Over a period of 6 months, 100 people who came to the Centre for support were provided with a healthy, vegetarian meal every single day. Some days this also included those who gathered outside the entre at lunchtime.
“We fed about 100 people who were homeless, jobless, drug users and people who were affected or infected by HIV. The free vegetarian meal is to engage the homeless people living with HIV or AIDS and to ensure they adhere to their medications,” she said.
“We also use this opportunity to get to know them and their concerns, teach them about their basic rights, how to use condoms and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases,” she added.
Through the free meals, the NGO was able to reach out to the people who needed help and provided them with the knowledge and skills through their classes.
“We try to empower them, give them the strength to face the world. We also introduce them to our contacts and help them find employment in places such as Tesco hypermarkets, McDonald’s fast-food chain, hotels and packaging lines.
“I am happy to see that many are gainfully employed now and have no reason to come to the Centre anymore,” she said.
People who come to the Centre often suffer from depression and drug abus. Many have been victimised by violent, homophobic people who harass and abuse them at every available opportunity.
To learn more about the work of PKKUM, please visit https://pkkum508143069.wordpress.com/