Formerly homeless, this KL lady now runs feeding programme for the poor in Chow Kit

Arif Zikri
·4-min read
Wan Qamariah Daud or Mak Wan is determined to help the homeless community in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur. — Pictures by Shafwan Zaidon
Wan Qamariah Daud or Mak Wan is determined to help the homeless community in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur. — Pictures by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — She was married off at age 11 and went through a turbulent life that included being homeless in Chow Kit and spending time in prison and rehabilitation centres.

Now, at age 68, Wan Qamariah Daud or better known as Mak Wan, has been feeding the homeless and destitute in Chow Kit for the past few years.

Her good deeds have not gone unnoticed and while she first started by using what little money she had to buy the food, Mak Wan eventually received aid from others to help her carry out the feeding programme.

She now has Warung Makan Sahabat Chow Kit which reopened a couple of weeks ago with the help of motivational speaker, Cikgu Jinggo and Misi Amal founder, Maryam Salwany.

It is located at Lorong Chow Kit 4 where meals are given to the homeless at 12pm every day except Mondays.

Besides that, there is also consultation for the homeless who are drug users and HIV/AIDS screening.

“We are not looking to just give free food to them, we can offer them counselling as well,” she said.

“We’re also planning to turn it into an industry where we invite mothers living in Chow Kit to join us and learn how to make kuih.

“Once they’re able, they can open up their own business and we will help them in the process.”

She first began giving food to the homeless right after she came back from performing her umrah seven years ago.

A kind-hearted individual, who sponsored her umrah, also gave her an oven and mixer.

She used the appliances to make cakes and sold them through the Azam Kerja 1Malaysia programme at that time.

Instead of keeping the profit, she used the money to buy food and cooked meals for distribution to the Chow Kit homeless.

Distribution was done by her cycling around the area.

Eventually, someone started donating RM100 a week for her to grow the programme but the donation recently stopped when the person fell ill.

Volunteers at Warung Makan Sahabat distributing meals to the homeless people of Chow Kit. — Pictures by Shafwan Zaidon
Volunteers at Warung Makan Sahabat distributing meals to the homeless people of Chow Kit. — Pictures by Shafwan Zaidon

Warung Makan Sahabat Chow Kit came about after she posted on Facebook about opening a shop to help the homeless.

This caught the attention of Cikgu Jinggo and Maryam.

The cost per meal is RM8 per pack.

Up to 300 food packs are given out daily and as for poverty stricken families, they would also give out essential groceries to them such as cooking oil and rice.

Mak Wan distributes facemask to the homeless. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Mak Wan distributes facemask to the homeless. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

“The reason I wanted to help them so badly is because I’m confident that they can change.

“We have to give them the trust, give them the opportunity so that they know that even they have the rights to live, rights to get a job, rights to have a family.

“Right now they can’t see it themselves, maybe they have an addiction problem or maybe they’re from poverty stricken families,” Mak Wan said.

Mak Wan hopes that the Warung Makan Sahabat can be her legacy and she hopes to add in more programmes in the future such as cooking and motivational classes.

Other than that, Mak Wan also plans to open up a hub where homeless people can come in and take a shower and clean themselves up.

Mak Wan was only 11 years old when her foster family arranged her marriage with her husband. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Mak Wan was only 11 years old when her foster family arranged her marriage with her husband. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Mak Wan first came to Chow Kit from Kelantan with her husband at the age of 11 after her foster family had an arranged marriage for her.

Mak Wan who didn’t have any say in the decision was left with no choice but to follow her husband who turned out to be a drug dealer.

After getting caught in a police raid, Mak Wan’s husband was sentenced to death while Mak Wan who was still underage at that time, was sentenced to prison but due to her good behaviour, she was released after four years.

Upon her first release, Mak Wan did not have anywhere to go and lived off the Chow Kit streets where she became involved in drug dealing and usage for 38 years.

After spending more than a decade in various rehabilitation centres and prisons, Mak Wan finally decided to turn her life around and she is dedicating her efforts to help the homeless of Chow Kit.

Warung Makan Sahabat Chow Kit operates fully on donations from the public.

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