Homeless celebrate Aidilfitri in the new normal via Jom Raya programme

Meals were supplied to 50 residents at the Homeless Transit Centre in Jalan Pahang, here yesterday. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR: This year, Hari Raya is being celebrated differently in line with the Movement Control Order (MCO) which came into force in March to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Even the homeless are not spared from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) set for celebrating Aidilfitri, as can be seen in the ‘Jom Raya’ programme organised by the Institute Onn Ja’afar (IOJ) at the Homeless Transit Centre in Jalan Pahang, here, yesterday.

Meals were supplied to 50 residents at the centre in accordance with the SOPs set, which included social distancing and it certainly brought joy to the community who also faced the COVID-19 challenges, said IOJ’s chief executive officer Charles Mohan.

“Before, the Jom Raya programme was celebrated on a larger scale since 2016 at the KL Transit House, where we entertained about 200 homeless people and celebrated this auspicious day together.

However, this year it is completely different, when our task was to just send specially packed food parcels for the homeless here.

“In addition, we usually invite about 30 volunteers from public and private universities to participate in the programme endorsed by the Federal Territories Ministry but due to the MCO we are relying on our own staff to ensure that the food is delivered on time,” he told the media here, yesterday.

A resident at the centre, Mohammed Azmi Mohd Sham, 35, said this was the first year he was celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri at the Homeless Transit Centre and described it as a different experience.

He who hails from Kluang, Johor, however, explained that he has been unable to spend time with his family in the village even last year due to work restrictions and this year due to the MCO.

“This time it’s different because I’m spending Hari Raya with my friends from the streets, without my family.  Here, they have become my family. It’s disheartening not being able to greet and seek forgiveness from my mother on this day.

“My intention was to go home but because of the MCO, I can’t.  Maybe, after the MCO I will go home. 

"Parents expect their children to come home so when they can’t, surely they will feel sad, that’s a mother's heart,” he said, choking on his words.

Meanwhile, Sufian Suri Hashim, 47, expressed his joy of being able to celebrate with his friends because in previous years Aidilfitri was a lonely affair for him with no one.

“Alhamdulillah, I’m so happy today to be together with my friends, if not (for my friends) I would be sad celebrating it all alone.  I miss my family, but there’s nothing I can do, we have gone separate ways.

“I wish Selamat Hari Raya to everyone including to my family, my parents, my wife and children and my friends.  Maaf Zahir Batin, I seek forgiveness if I have done anything wrong,” said Sufian Suri who hails from Tanjung Karang, Selangor.