Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) is led by a dedicated committee of people who are passionate about what they do. Led by President Dato’ Ruby Khong, the committee has grown KSK’s services from a distribution of 20 food packets per week back in 2006, to more than 850 packets per week. In September 2010, this went one step further when KSK opened our permanent soup kitchen. Today, alongside our regular weekend distribution service, we also serve 180 people everyday, on Mondays to Fridays.
|Patron||Y. Bhg. Datuk Dr. Victor Wee|
|President||Dato’ Ruby Khong|
|Vice President||Julia Tan|
|Treasurer||Chua Siong Woan|
|Committee Member||Wong Kwok Wai
Each food distribution route is headed by a Team Leader, whose responsibility is to ensure that:
- No new volunteer goes operational until a General KSK Volunteer Guideline Form is completed
- Every volunteer has attended a briefing session
- At least one member of the team is first-aid trained
Kechara Soup Kitchen’s Project Director is Chua Siong Woan who ensure that
- All food is collected, delivered and packed
- All Team Leaders have a medical First Aid Kit and that it is fully stocked at all times
Meet the committee
Dato’ Ruby Khong
Dato’ Ruby Khong is the President of Kechara Soup Kitchen, socialite, mother of three beautiful grown up children, director of an international petroleum company, and the director of a chain of Himalayan artefact retail shops. Despite the many hats she wears, she remains committed to the plight of the less fortunate.
Her dedication to the cause resulted in her naming as one of Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy. More recently, Dato’ Ruby won the Golden Heart category in the Tribute to Women Awards, presented by Malaysia’s First Lady, Yang Amat Berbahagia Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor.
It is not an uncommon sight to find Dato’ Ruby in the back streets of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday nights with her team of volunteers serving and talking to her friends on the streets.
Her ability to balance her responsibilities to her family and career, whilst maintaining a sincere commitment to philanthropy, is admired by many seeking to imitate her ease and natural grace. Dato’ Ruby is comfortable, unpretentious and undeniably feminine in whatever role she finds herself in. With her hands-on approach, this passionate, upbeat, very bubbly lady is a true leader in her own right.
I am a single mother of two teenagers, as well as a successful professional Gemologist (GIA) running my own jewelry business in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. I’m always thinking of ways to enrich my life, things that can benefit both my two growing children as well as others.
I joined Kechara Soup Kitchen in 2008. This was the first time I have come so close to such poverty. Talking to the poor and hearing their stories has made me treasure every moment in my life because I realize that life is so uncertain and impermanent. By helping the homeless and urban poor, I have learned kindness and compassion. I hope my children can take from my example and grow up thinking of others.
Originally from Negeri Sembilan, I came to the Klang Valley for my tertiary education in 1998, where I obtained a Bachelors Degree in General Computing from A.P.I.I.T/Staffordshire University UK. I’ve worked in many fields including IT, Procurement and Human Resources. With my free-time I have had the great fortune of being able to volunteer at Kechara Soup Kitchen. I feel this brings something different into my life. Being a volunteer in KSK brings to light the less fortunate members of society and this has helped me grow as a person. Realizing that there are always less fortunate people out there makes you more content with what you have.
Chua Siong Woan
Treasurer, Project Director
As a mother of 2, I used to spend my free-time gardening, reading, listening to music and traveling. On 4th January 2009, I joined Kechara Soup Kitchen. This became one of the most important turning points in my life. From then on, dharma and helping people became a big part of my life.
Professionally, I obtained a Fellowship from The Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (FCCA) and am currently working full time as a Project Director of Kechara Soup Kitchen. Prior to this, I was the Assistant Vice President of Finance for Travel Guard Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. This was after my role as the Senior Business Controller of Nokia, responsible for financial and management accounting, credit control and logistic functions of Nokia mobile phones’ operations in Malaysia and Brunei.
It is also my honor to serve KSK as Honorary Treasurer, by where I can add value with my professional knowledge and experience.
Wong Kwok Wai
A lawyer by training, my life before Kechara was an unending pursuit of self-serving worldly success – I was (and still am) a successful entrepreneur in the security industry with my own company. One day, I stumbled across the old Kechara Paradise in Lot 10. It led to my introduction to Kechara Soup Kitchen and immediately, I knew this was where the action was. Through my volunteering, I saw the activities, warmth and passion demonstrated by KSK volunteers. It struck a chord deep within me. I could not help but allow myself be swept away by their passionate selfless activities.
Today, I know that my pursuit for fulfilment need not be self-centred. The balance I have always desired in life can be obtained by fulfilling others’ needs – the need to be given a second chance, to be cared for, to be understood, to be accepted and to be loved.
Originally from Perak, I came to know about Kechara Soup Kitchen since it first started serving food to the homeless and needy in 2008. I was very moved and felt very fortunate to be involved with all the activities all these years. Volunteering in KSK makes me feel very happy and it is really better than just spending my free time doing nothing. I was also very fortunate and honored to be elected as one of the committee member in Kechara Soup Kitchen.
I love the spirit of giving and helping the poor very much. I grew up in a poor family and maybe that was how I learned to give more to the needy people. Many of my friends did ask me from time to time about things that would make me happy. I would just simply answer by saying the feeling of fulfillment after doing charity work such as Kechara Soup Kitchen’s food distribution rounds. Nothing beats the feeling of watching the homeless clients waving goodbye to you with a full stomach.
It is also very encouraging when you see some of our clients already left the streets and slowly moving back into the society either through KSK’s help or self initiated. I believe if we work even harder, we will be able to help many more to get off from their current situation. I hope more and more new sponsors and volunteers will join in to help ‘fight’ for our meaningful cause.
Khor Beng Kim
Assistant Project Director
I am a father of two grown up girls. I came into KSK as an assistant project director in 2009. Before I joined KSK I was running a small furniture business. The first time I volunteered in KSK was one night before I started this job. It was an eye-opening experience for me. What KSK does has inspired me tremendously. I saw it with my own eyes and I never thought that a job for a living can be so meaningful. We work with passion, joy and love. KSK has helped me to become a happier person I must say. I am very fortunate to work with KSK.
After working in Nokia (M) Sdn Bhd for 12 years, where I took care of orders and logistics, I felt something was missing. Having spent over a decade in the corporate world left me seeking a more meaningful life.
As a result, I began to work in Unicef for a short period of time, when I was also actively involved in the Life Academy as a volunteer worker. It was not until 2010 when I took my family on a few of KSK’s Sunday rounds, that I felt connected to the cause of homelessness and found myself wanting to do more.
I am really happy to work in KSK where, since June 2011, my many responsibilities now include KSK’s administrative works, as well as coordinating the volunteers’ schedule. For someone who has always been interested in charitable giving, being with KSK gives me the perfect opportunity to combine my passion with my work.
Meet the volunteers
Veronica Koo, 52
I am a mother of two grown up kids. I work as a child-minder looking after kids, making me mostly free on the weekends. I have always wanted to join a charity group and to contribute over the weekends with something meaningful and beneficial to society. I read about KSK in the newspapers and called them around a year and a half ago to find out more.
Having previously worked in a hospital as an admin nurse, I would see people suffering all the time. Each time I saw this, I would suffer. As a volunteer at KSK, I would feel very happy and fulfilled after coming back from delivery rounds. Now, I volunteer every Saturday and Sunday and have got my children involved as well.
I am happy that I can contribute in my own little way and am always very touched when I see another homeless person get off the streets.
I’m a 61 year old Australian architect, lucky enough to be living and working in Kuala Lumpur for the last few years.
I knew about Kechara House through local friends who invited me (and my wallet) to a couple of fund-raising events there, and told me about the Kechara Soup Kitchen. I’d never volunteered for regular charity work before, but when I was finding I had spare time on my hands, I thought I’d give it a try – it surely would be less pointless, less expensive and more educational than swilling beer with a bunch of gweilos, or driving all over town looking for “the best beef noodles/kway teow/frog porridge in the Klang Valley”!
The KSK website gave most of the information I needed, and Justin filled in the rest at my orientation back in September 09. Since then I’ve been packing, loading, driving and handing out food packages most Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. (I take a weekend off every now and then to retreat to the jungle, but I’m soon forgiven.)
I’m not into the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism or any other brand of navel-gazing, so I was relieved to find no undercover recruitment program for that side of KH. The KSK organisers and the regular volunteers are just good-hearted, pleasant, funny, friendly human beings, and I enjoy catching up with them. There’s also a constant flow of new volunteers, local and international – even if they only try it once, we’ve met, and they’ve learnt something.
I just like the fact that my shedding a few bucket-loads of sweat has direct and tangible results, which are that around 350 people every weekend (on my route alone) get to eat something they wouldn’t otherwise have. And more indirectly, (through Justin’s efforts, not mine), a few of them find an opportunity to work and get their independent lives back.
Tan Bee Li
Occupation: Undergraduate Psychology Student
How I came to know about KSK: Alas! Google Search
For some, a helping hand can make a huge difference to their life. That’s what I think anyway and that’s why I decided to help out at KSK. Contrary to the general conception of the homeless, the people who live on the streets are not merely drug addicts or alcoholics. Many of them are like the rest of us, except that they are much less fortunate. They have no home, no one to turn to, very little hope and are often all alone. They even have their dignity stripped away as they scavenge for food and sleep on the streets. Too often, society views them as a nuisance. All this while, they are just looking for a way out.
Having someone to talk to and a helping hand makes a world of difference them. If we could only make someone feel valued and cared for, we could change his or her day. If we can help someone transition off the streets, we can make a difference to his or her life. So is spending 3 hours of your Sunday worth anything? Yes I would say, it could be worth a LIFE…
Darryl Ma, 24
Occupation: Consultancy, Accenture
Background: Cultureless (I don’t adhere to any culture. I create my own)
The world has degenerated because good men cower in the face of adversity. In an age where injustice reigns, I believe that people should stand up and take action.
A qualified lawyer with a passion for writing, I chose to pursue a career in writing. Currently, I am a journalist from The Star and with a lovely wife and 2 beautiful kids.
I came to know of KSK through Justin Cheah. Justin and I were on the same school hockey team many years ago. Unfortunately, we never stayed in touch after Form Five. However, after 16 years of silence, the wonders of Facebook brought us back into contact with each other. I strongly believe that there is a reason to everything that happens in life. Becoming reacquainted with an old friend, for example, may seem commonplace enough. Occasionally though, as in the case of Justin and me, it’s possible to glimpse and appreciate the bigger (better) picture.
Grace Mei Ling
I’m a single mom with two beautiful daughters, Jasmine Muniandy (9 years old) and Laura Gayathri (8 years old) whom I see on weekends. I first heard about KSK in 2010 from an article in The Star, and reading about them really touched me so I wrote down Kechara’s name on a slip of paper.
Due to my busy work schedule, and my precious weekends with my girls, it was few months before I got in touch with KSK for more information. In fact, it was not until September that I had two weekends on my own since my girls were away in the UK with their father. I took the opportunity to write to Justin for further information.
It has been very fulfilling being involved with KSK. Since I started volunteering, I have got my daughters involved and I’m happy to say that they are so enthusiastic about KSK. As a parent, I wanted to open their eyes to what is real in this materialistic world, and the reality that there are people on the streets. I want my daughters, the future generation, to learn humility and to instill this love to help the less fortunate.
My daughters and I have been active every Saturday night, doing our small part to pack and serve food to the homeless. Our regular routes take us through the Chow Kit and Cahaya Suria areas. What I love about KSK is that the committee looks after the volunteers’ welfare and safety, as I have two young children who may not realise the danger of being on the streets. Volunteering for KSK has allowed me to be closer to my daughters as we have a common goal (to feed the homeless), and now I have made new friends who believe in the same cause, so thank you KSK.
Christine Gooi, 25
Originally from Penang, I moved to Kuala Lumpur (KL) after high school to begin my tertiary education. In 2008, I graduated with a University East London BA (Hons) Business Administration degree and worked in the education industry for a year.
I learned about Kechara from my mother and father, who have had the great honour of knowing His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche for many years. My mother is very active in the organisation back in Penang, and began KSK’s activities there. It was her example of helping those less fortunate that encouraged and inspired me to volunteer at KSK in KL.
Volunteering at KSK has been a real eye-opener for me. It taught me that we should always feel contented with what we have in our life and always be grateful. I find it gratifying to be able to do something meaningful with my free time, and especially joyful for me when we help a person get off the streets, and regain his life and independence again.
Charlene Ong, 66
KSK has always been very kind to me, delivering food to my doorstep every Sunday without fail for the past four years. In the process, I made some very nice friends like Sharon and Justin, and the other volunteers who were always very helpful and showed care to me.
I was very excited when I heard that the soup kitchen was going to open on Jalan Barat. I volunteered my services to help clean everyday; whenever I am there, I feel like I am at home because the place is so nice and well-decorated. I feel that by cleaning, I have a way to contribute to KSK because I have many years of experience of working as a cleaner.
It is a great honour for me to be able to serve in the soup kitchen and I enjoy working with every one of them; I have lots of friends here, thanks to the kindness of KSK. Some of my street friends do come to get food from the soup kitchen, and I feel very happy that I have helped them in a way. Being 66, I have little else to do and I am too old to find a job elsewhere. At KSK, I am happy to be of service.
Uncle Ng, 60
I came to know about KSK when I bumped into one of the distribution points about four years ago. Professor Choi was the first few people whom I met. I decided to help her to distribute food because she was very kind to me and I felt compelled to help her. In other words, I was touched by her kindness, and it inspired me to want to come and help every time.
Whenever I helped at KSK back then, I always felt happy because all the volunteers were very friendly and they made me feel welcomed. In fact, I have always liked to volunteer and help people since I was very young. When my financial situation was better, I remember that I used to give donations to orphanages and shelters. When things did not work out well for me, I volunteered my time to help.
I like the idea of KSK’s food distribution programme and the concept of a nurture centre to bring our clients off the streets. It makes me very happy to be able to help out. I am glad that I am contributing in my little way to the less fortunate parts of society.
I am now able to help clients to replace their lost identification cards, apply for welfare aid and various other services – it makes me proud that I am able to do this, and gives me a sense of responsibility. From time to time, I meet the friends that I made on the streets. It makes me feel uneasy and I think that although I have nothing with me, at least with KSK I can do something for them.