THERE is more than one way to fall victim to Covid-19.
Sixteen months into the outbreak, many lives have been lost to the coronavirus. Many more livelihoods have been destroyed. Data from the Social Security Organisation show almost 100,000 people lost their jobs last year.
Some have lost the struggle to to keep a roof over their heads. People are sleeping under the bridge, in alleyways, and five-foot walkways.
As the coronavirus crisis continues, with no end in sight, the now empty streets of the city of Kuala Lumpur could become filled once more – with people who have lost everything to Covid-19. – July 17, 2021.
Mahalatechmi, 42, sits at the bus station at night. She left Kampar to find work in Kuala Lumpur in 2015. She lost her job and her home – a room she rented for RM20 a day – when Covid struck. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Ariffin Arif, 50, rests on a street, with his drawing blocks by his side. Since the MCO 1.0, Ariffin has been sleeping rough under a building in Bukit Bintang. Before the Covid-19 outbreak, he could make RM100 to RM200 a day selling his paintings in Bukit Bintang. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Shafiq, 31, is new to the streets. He sleeps where the street lights are bright, near the police station when he can, so he feels safe. He recently lost his job waiting on tables. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Armin, 45, from Myanmar, sleeps at the bus stop. He has socks on to prevent mosquito bites at night. Armin was as a housekeeper at a hotel in China town before the pandemic took his job. He misses his family in Myanmar and hopes to go home when the pandemic is over. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Indonesians Surianto Jalani, 27, and his aunt Ismawati Buwono, 41, are living in the streets while waiting for travel to be allowed so that they can go home to Medan. All they have to their names are the plane tickets home, after they lost their jobs as cooks three months ago. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Zuraini Kamaruddin, 41, from Taiping, Perak, is a single mother of four. The family live in a small room in Chow Kit. Before the pandemic, Zuraini worked in a factory in Shah Alam. Her savings are now depleted and she has no money for rent. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Mohd Zahidi Che Don has lost everything in the Covid epidemic. First he lost his job and then he lost his lodgings when he could not pay the rent. In the two months he was sleeping rough, he sold everything he owned to keep himself fed. He now lives in Pusat Kominiti Setiawangsa, the city council’s shelter for the homeless. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Sabri, 59, a former Air Force serviceman, lost his job as a construction worker in the first lockdown last year. Subsequent employment at a car wash did not pay enough to allow him to keep his cheap hotel lodgings in Pudu, so he ended up in the streets. He now lives in DBKL’s transit centre for the homeless. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Mohd Saabri Bin Mohd Deris, 57 years old, who hails from Negeri Sembilan, walks inside the detention centre while struggling to cope with homelessness. Mohd Saabri worked as a security guard in Kuala Lumpur. The national lockdown, however, took Mohd Saabri to another painful reality. He was unable to rent a place and work due to the worsening Covid-19 situation. Mohd Saabri has been sleeping rough on the streets for 3 days before being brought to the transit centre by DBKL. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Choo Chok Fong, 44, has found shelter at Pusat Komuniti Setiawangsa after one day of life in the streets. The Johor man was a cook at the 1 Utama food court before the loss of the job forced him out into the streets. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Tay Man Ching, 55, from Sarawak, hopes to find a job and a return to normalcy when the epidemic ends. He has been out of work for three months, during which time he also lost his lodgings when he ran out of money for rent. He has worked at a snooker club and a petrol station, and as a driver, harvest worker, and kitchen helper. He had been fully vaccinated at the Anjung Kelana transformation centre where he now lives. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Mohd Zulfarul Sham, 44, from Kelantan, hopes for life to return to normal when the MCO is lifted. Before the first lockdown, he was a shop assistant in Central Market. When the pandemic struck, he became homeless. He was sleeping in the streets until he was discovered by DBKL officers, who took him to a transit centre. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Alvin, 26, moved to Kuala Lumpur to make a living. He started his first job at the Selangor wholesale market, making RM80 per day. He rented a room at RM450 per month before the pandemic. He could not afford his daily living cost and rental without any income. He also finished his savings after spending RM250 on a PCR test he needed to apply for jobs. He went back to Selangor Wholesale Market with his PCR test result, hoping for a job opportunity. But, unfortunately, he failed to get a job due to retrenchment. Thus, he had no choice but to live on the streets. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Che Nor Kamarulzaman, 24, is from Raub, Pahang and his wife Zakiah binti Wan Daud, 29, is from Kulim, Kedah. They came to Kuala Lumpur with 2 children - Nor Dayana Miasara, 7, and Mohd Amirul Syafiq, 4. Kamarulzaman worked at the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market fish section while struggling to afford a rented room of RM350 per month. With the closure of the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market, Kamarulzaman could not afford rent. They sleep in front of the Hotel Garden Inn so that they get easy access to food. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.
Che Nor Kamarulzaman walks in front with a bag while his wife and two kids follow at the back. Sustaining a life became nearly impossible until the couple received help from NGOs. With financial aids from NGOs, they are now paying partial rent at Flat Sri Saujana provided by NGOs. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 17, 2021.