A mother-son duo - Madam Mah, 61, and Wong, 23 (with symptoms of autism) - was forced to live at McDonald’s branch at Petaling Jaya after failing to pay rent.
Justin Cheah, project director at Kechara Soup Kitchen Society, found them at the fast-food restaurant located near the CurveNX building, near The Curve shopping mall, after receiving a call from a volunteer. Cheah said the duo had been living at the fast-food branch for a year - after being on the streets for a number of years.
Spending a week tracking and observing Madam Mah and Wong with most nights ending the earliest at 3 to 4am, from going to Tesco and AEON Big to fast food restaurants of KFC and Mc Donald's, Justin and his team from Kechara had managed to track down the duo and convinced them to accept help.
Now, placed in a rented home - Kechara is helping to fundraise for the rental at RM600 per month and daily expenses for the duo. Unfortunately they can't be integrated back into the working society as yet, as the son will need to undergo assessment on his condition and likely required to be put on medication. Thus, we are targeting to raise RM12,000 that covers rental and daily expenses for a year.
Below is Justin's full account of the incident regarding Madam Mah & Wong:
and son homeless at McD for almost a year!
I was in the office at 2.10am yesterday getting ready to call it a night after the Saturday Night Rounds when the office phone rang. I was tempted to ignore but my gut feeling was it must be some kind of emergency for someone to be calling the office at this hour. I was glad that I took the call.
Tze Ni, our volunteer rang up to inform that she found two homeless person (a 61 year old mother and 23 year old son) who have been staying in Mc D near The Curve for almost a year already (!). I went immediately to the location to see what can be done to help this two poor souls.
Not long after I've reached and managed to see them. When I approached them they seemed very frail and shy to talk. It seems they have been homeless for many months from their outlook and smell. I tried to offer them food first and they declined although they hadn't eaten for days. They told me they don't feel like eating anything at that moment. Breaks my heart hearing that.
After some moment of ice breaking session, I got to know that and Madam Mah became homeless after she lost her job as a cleaner and failed to pay for her room rental. Her husband had passed away long time ago and the 23 year old man (Wong) is her only child. Wong seems to be a "slow" person and have very low self confidence and only studied till Standard 6.
They have been walking around looking for a job but failed and will bunk over at this Mc D almost every night. Whatever odd or full time jon they tried to look for ended in failure due to their appearance and most jobs were already overtaken by cheaper and quicker foreigners.
As they ran out of money, there are many days that they didn't actually eat. That was shocking to me. It looks to me that Madam Mah is also very affected by the homelessness situation that she is in. It seems both of them were being looked down upon with their own family as well. Hence the reason they didn't seek any help from Madam Mah's siblings.
After learning more about their background, i offered to house them
for the night before making other arrangements to further help them. They
immediately took my offer without the slightest of hesitation. When I am ready
to bring both Wong and Madam Mah back to Imbi to be checked into a hotel, TzeNi
and her friends also contributed some donations to help them which was very
Update on Madam Mah and Wong, the mother and son who became homeless for a year in Mc D The Curve. Sad. Not disappointed but filled with question marks.
I was on my way to see them again late today with some good news to give them. I made a few knocks and waited for a while and felt strange with no one responding. When i opened the door, i got a shock to learn that both of them were not around. The bed seems wasn't used.
The slippers were rearranged back nicely to where it was placed originally. If you notice the photo I took the other night, both of them were wearing the hotel slippers after they got in. So I don't think they intended to go as soon as they checked in.
They didn't take the keys along. (Notice the key next to the tv in the photo) meaning they already planned to go without returning. They also didn't take the bag and clothes that I gave them, not even the bottles of drinks and toiletries set I gave them left me wondering what had happened.
According to the receptionist uncle, they went out in the morning telling him they are going out for breakfast and that is the last he saw them.
1. They have deeper underlying issues which cannot really be revealed after one meet and they probably didn't feel comfortable. Both of them seemed nervous (not restless) and psychologically challenged which needs more time to gauge.
2. If they don't trust me (by leaving), they wouldn't have followed me from The Curve to Kechara Soup Kitchen in Imbi in the first place. They wouldn't even say yes in the first time of asking.
3. I didn't mention in my previous post that the mother couldn't remember what is her ic number and date or birth but the strange thing is, his son can remember his mother's ic number but not his own.
4. They seemed to be bothered with multiple problems which at first thought to be lacking in food intake. They must have went through a lot to be in this situation. Both were disorganised.
5. They have never asked for any money assistance or at any point seemed not genuine hence I don't think they at any point wanting to cheat me.
6. Probably they are too timid to even voice out their plight and have certain mental barrier to sensibly help themselves. Perhaps the confidence level is very low.
There must be something that is bothering them that I wish to find out. I shall continue to look for Madam Mah and Wong to see what is the next step forward and most likely will be with different method.
Latest update on Madam Mah and Wong's case:
For the past few days we went tracking Aunty and Wong to find and see what else can we do to help. I need to find out why they left the room I rented for them the first time out and to know them better. There is also another mission to understand them better especially psychology wise.
After few nights out, we managed to track them and sat from far to gauge their behaviour and understand them better.
1. The reason why they left the room I rented for them in Imbi was because Wong said it's "boring" and they aren't familiar with the place. Wong claimed they don't know how to return to the hotel and couldn't contact me when they do not have a phone. Wong answered these without the presence of the mother who when I saw him, was on her way to collect some paper (later we found out that she uses it as a layer to her from the table. There were a few times she asked the Mc D cleaner to help wipe the table where she sleeps for her.
2. The son has symptoms of autism. Highly insecure and basically glued to the mother. When we (not on purpose initially, but then tried a few times to see if the same thing happened) stood next to Wong, he would quickly move away to his mother's side and all times behind her. Most of the times he wants to position himself with a wall behind his back but he is better with me and seems comfortable with me.
3. The mother cannot really work and not fit to work. What more with having to "layan" the son who seems cannot sit in the same seat for more than 15-20 minutes. During one of the nights, we noted the mother and son actually switched seats indoor and outdoor of the same restaurants. They loiter and switch shopping malls in Kepong and Mutiara Damansara area mainly because of Wong. Madam Mah through much later stage, we found out she has the same tendency.
4. Remember me mentioning about their body smell? They seemed to be clean and have new sets of clothes when we saw them on Thursday. Madam Mah mentioned they cleaned themselves at public toilet. Both of them seemed very drained and only sleeps in comfortable places and in seating positions. On seats and never on the floors. The boy especially always wake up for a while in between sleeps looking around.
5. Many of the decisions lies with the boy, Wong. The moment Wong is not comfortable, he will want to leave and he is only comfortable to places that he is familiar with. Places that he used to frequent and have fond memories of. That explains why he only hangs out in popular places such as malls and fast food restaurant especially KFC. They hang out in Mc Donald's because it's 24 hours.
6. They are definitely not ready to work and trust me it is not because of both of them are lazy. The mother and son have very minimal social contact despite being exposed to the public areas but they don't really talk to others. They are not mental either. The boy showing strong signs of autism, they boy do have some repetitive actions. Madam Mah seemed to have this as well and plus underlying issues too but she takes care of her son.
7. Going into any institutions will not help. The son won't want to be separated from the mother and Madam Mah can't work if the son is not around being taken care. Both of them cannot sit in one place for too long. Everyday they move around but back to the same places. Otherwise they will be "bored". Obvious issue again here.
What happened since Thursday:
1. After two unsuccessful nights trying to find them, we managed to find them through public's tip off (Thanks!). We followed them and they seemed normal. They were comfortable with each other's company. We did not approach them and basically gauging only. We called it a day at 4am. Thanks to the heroics of Jerry, Vivian and Tek Lee.
2. On Friday night 11pm ish, we went back to Mutiara Damansara and thanks to another kind tip off. We got them in Tesco KFC but by then they were already sleeping soundly. I only showed myself much later when they woke up. I realised I have a better chance after the mother went away to collect a piece of paper (later found out that she uses that as a protection layer from the table she will lean her body on.
That's when Wong told me why they left. It was not till we later found out that it is more about Wong who wasn't comfortable with the environment and unfamiliar territory they are living in. This is also the moment I can confirm Wong has psychological issues.
3. When the mother came back minutes later, she was just smiling, same reaction that Wong gave me. I again asked Madam Mah why they left and she said almost the same thing. So I left it just like that and approach from another angle.
I was ready to give another try to prove my findings were right. I offered to place them in another hotel and this time in Kepong Metro Prima. Wong immediately nodded and Mah too gladly nodded after seeing the son nodded. I jokingly said don't run away this time: "We go see first and you both like it then we rent Ok?" They were quite shy people and the trust basically is there.
After knowing what really happened the other night, I also proposed a plan to them that i will be renting them a room if they only like to be in Kepong Metro Prima where Wong grew up in and lived for a few good years. Of course he has to be comfortable in otherwise I stand to pay rental for the room without them staying. This is my main worry actually but then again at least they have a place to call home and always can go back. This is a special case and let's give it a try and work one step at a time.
4. They liked the hotel room I rented for the night and I can really see the happiness this time around better than the first time I saw them. Room is more cosy and in an area they are most comfy in. I made back up plans by having my tea break at the restaurant situated opposite of the hotel that I checked him in. Myself, Mickey, Michelle and Tek Lee all in their working attire waiting patiently to see if they run away or not. Apart from one false alarm, it was a great job done. We waited till 3am and no signs of them coming out and the receptionist were very kind and helpful!
5. The next morning, they were fresh and really waited for me at 11am to check out. Wong told me that he really like the room, the tv has a lot of programmes when asked. We had breakfast and obviously they really needed it although initially said they took some bread but clearly they were really hungry. We then walked to nearby apartment to look for rooms to be rented for them and we found one that they like. Honestly, it is most important for the boy to like the room and we are glad that the boy like the room and the rest is history.
So now that they have a home to return to after their routined day time trips to shopping malls around the neighbourhood. This will be one major step to gain their trust and as Michelle was telling me, the boy likes me more. My subsequent assignments and missions will be to help them apply for their lost MYKAD, create a bank account for them, welfare aid application and slowly groom them back into the society.
It will be an extra long process but they certainly need that as they have to be handled slowly and patiently. We have to remember they were disconnected from the society for quite some time and will need all the time and patience to get back into the society.
The money raised will be used to cover the rental of RM600 per month and daily expenses. Thank you all in advance!