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IPOH, March 1 — No one knows how long octogenarian Choo Ken Tong has been making the five-foot way his home.
He was living on the side of the road until Pertubuhan Amal Ai Xin Fan Tong Ipoh advisor Kat W. Wong came upon him when she was delivering food to vagabonds at Jalan Toh Puan Chah in December.
“The shop owners asked us to help the 81-year-old as he had been staying there for quite some time,” she said.
Speaking to Malay Mail, Wong said she decided to bring Choo to a half-way house run by the organisation for shelter.
“All of Choo’s possessions were kept in a cupboard that he picked up from unwanted things.
“When we wanted to send him to the halfway house, he asked to leave the cupboard at the five-foot way in case other people wanted to use it,” she said.
The organisation’s co-ordinator Moke Yit Wing said they started taking in abandoned senior citizens in 2018, two years after it started its kitchen to feed the poor.
“Initially the half-way house was next to our kitchen at Persiaran Ho Lok Pak but following an expansion to our kitchen’s operation, we decided to move them to a flat unit at Jalan Chamberlain Hulu.”
Moke said the home, with the monthly rental sponsored by a donor, currently houses six men in three rooms.
“While the home serves as a half-way house where the occupants can stay for a maximum of nine months, we allow some to stay longer as their health condition does not permit them to move out.”
During their stay, Moke said the senior citizens are encouraged to find jobs and they will move out once they are employed and can take care of themselves.
“Some managed to get jobs as parking attendants or security guards,” he said.
Moke said since June last year, the organisation planned to construct a building in Pasir Pinji that combined its kitchen operations and the half-way house.
“We managed to raise RM192,000 out of the RM1.5 million needed for the construction but everything is now at a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Under the plan, Moke said it will be a three-storey building where the kitchen will be on the ground floor and the half way house will be on the first and second floor.
“There will be 20 beds on each floor.”
“It is our wish to have the building up as soon as possible as every week we receive up to three calls asking us to take in vagabonds.”
Asked how he feels now staying at the half-way house, the now-employed Choo said he was happy as it was within walking distance to his workplace.
“I get to come back to rest during lunch-time while dinner will be prepared for me. A far cry from my days of walking the streets.”
For those wanting to donate to the organisation, please contact Moke at 012-5068884.