by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE front page picture of a family of three living on a pedestrian bridge in Selayang with the couple’s preschool daughter playing with her soft toy had stirred deep emotions.
The couple had been evicted from their home, believed to be due to the failure to pay their rent and arrears. They sought shelter at the pedestrian bridge at a time when the country is under the Movement Control Order (MCO).
The tear-jerking image, which was taken by The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) photographer, caught the attention of Muslim preacher Ebit Lew.
A few hours after the picture went viral on social media, Lew had gone to the pedestrian bridge and helped the homeless family move to a temporary shelter on Tuesday evening (March 31).
According to his Facebook posting, Lew said: “People found them on social media and tagged me, saying that it has been four days they were sleeping on this bridge.
“I went there at 11.30pm and as I was passing the police roadblock, the authority is willing to accompany me and help to carry down the mom’s and child’s belongings.”
Lew, when contacted by TMR, said the family is now staying at one of the houses he rents in Gombak, which is currently being used to store essential items. The items are stored there before they are distributed to the needy during the MCO.
Lew, through his non-governmental organisation (NGO), has been actively assisting those in need, especially the homeless, and motivating them to continue their life including to seek employment.
He is currently seeking assistance from the zakat authorities to ease the homeless family’s burden, besides trying to find a permanent home for the couple and their daughter.
“So far, they are living in a room at one of the houses that I temporarily rent. It is the same place that I store the essential items to be disbursed to the needy.
“If I cannot find a home for them, they can stay at this place for the time being,” Lew told TMR in a WhatsApp message.
Yayasan Kebajikan Negara has transit centres for the homeless. However, Lew said it is not suitable for the family to be placed there as they have a small child.
It is believed that the couples also have other children, who are being cared for by their adopted parents.
“If they can find a proper house, near the Gombak area or Kuala Lumpur, they can take the other children and start a proper life, and can do a small business for the long term,” Lew said.
He hopes someone will come forward to provide a temporary home for the family.
“If there is, and God willing, I will pay the rent,” Lew added.
The Muslim preacher is touched by the unending sacrifices made by the frontlines and authorities in helping those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. That has been his motivation in playing a role by helping those in need.
Government agencies have been working hard to assist the less privileged and groups badly impacted by the pandemic, including providing direct cash handouts and other incentives.
Many NGOs have also come forward to help other Malaysians who find themselves in dire straits during the MCO.