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A Raya with friends who are really family

 | June 26, 2017

Raya function helps soothe sense of loneliness for the homeless and depressed.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Mohamad Azwadi Arifin cut a forlorn figure as he stood underneath the staircase of the halfway house.

While the other homeless people queued up to enjoy the Raya spread at Pusat Transit Gelandangan’s open house, Azwadi quietly observed the crowd around him.

Despite his stoic appearance, Azwadi – who lost his job a month ago – is grateful that a Raya do was organised by Institute Onn Ja’afar (IOJ).

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“If there are no such events, our lives would be dull and we would be repeating our daily routine, even on Raya since we have no one to visit us,” he told FMT.

But while Azwadi chose not to mingle with the others, the centre – located in the heart of the capital – is a place where the downtrodden can also escape the stigma that haunts those who are homeless.

Or in some cases even find themselves a new family, like in the case of a 42-year old woman who only wanted to be known as Along.

Ostracised by her siblings after her mother’s death which left her depressed for months, Along says she discovered a new meaning in life after staying at the centre.

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She made new friends who gave her the moral support she needed, so much so the past doesn’t weigh her down anymore.

“My Raya is more colourful with my friends here,” a teary-eyed Along said, adding they were more like a family to her now.

Lily Ratnam also feels she is part of a larger family, even though most of her friends here are Malay-Muslims.

And she has never been happier despite her miserable past.

In fact, the 52-year-old divorcee even joined her friends to break fast after work and helped with Raya preparations.

“I am of a different race but they never think of me that way.”

Ivy Chong and Nurul Azwa contributed to this article.


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