Monday, July 20, 2015

Living in Santosha - The Gift of Giving It Forward

Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
I took a night shot of the beautiful, iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building in the heart of my city, Kuala Lumpur, last Saturday, 18 July. Built in the late 1800s, this landmark is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Take a walk behind the dark lanes and narrow alleys that surround this attraction and you'll see a different side of KL. The homeless, sleeping on concrete, cardboards or newspapers along poorly lit corridors, some reeking of cheap alcohol, drinking themselves into a deep slumber so that they can forget the meaning of extreme hunger; some utterly exhausted from a day of rummaging through the city's dustbins collecting cans and plastic bottles, hoping to earn a few dollars from the recycling centre; and some just having nowhere else to go after their families gave up on them and kicked them out to the streets.

My 3 friends and I volunteered to be part of a movement called "Giving It Forward Today" (GIFT) to distribute food to 2,000 of KL's homeless that night. It was the second day of the Eid Mubarak festive celebration here in Malaysia. Unsure where to "find" these people, we were also concerned for our safety, as we had to walk through stinky, poorly lit lanes, abandoned shops, and unsavory business establishments, carrying heavy carton boxes of food packs. 

It was indeed a pleasant experience to be greeted with smiles and gestures of gratitude as we handed out the food packs to the homeless (some had to be woken up from their drunken stupor). An old, almost toothless man even recited a prayer of blessing ('Doa Kesyukuran') to us as he received his meal. As we had more than enough to distribute, we offered them two food packs each. To our surprise, most said "one is enough, thank you".

One. Just one. From someone who couldn't remember when his last meal was, and has no idea when his next one will be. 

This evening's humbling message was Santosha...the contentment of accepting life as it is, and finding the 'enough' in moment-to-moment experience. 
I wonder how many of us truly can?

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible" - Dalai Lama.

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