Madhu Sudhan is known to many as the "Teddy Bear Doctor". Every Wednesday night, Madhu, along with a group of friends, provide free medical care for the homeless, urban poor and anyone who cannot afford basic medical needs.
This is his story:
Initially all the medication was from my own clinic, and started with my elder doctor brother, younger pharmacist sister, and eight volunteers.
Most of the patients have severe wounds on the legs and severe skin infection, and major asthma and heart cases as well.
If their condition is terrible we bring them to the hospital. We also sponsor for their medicine, if they cannot afford it.
But the thing is, for the majority of Malaysians out there, a homeless person holds a lot of stigma.
Some come from other states and can't find a job here, and some of them do have a job but cannot afford a place to stay, so they are on the streets, and use public toilets.
A lot of them are security guards and their salaries are RM900 a month. Even rented rooms go for RM300-400 per month.
On the other hand, a few homeless people might be drug addicts, but in reality some also have to leave their family homes, or have chronic illnesses such as fourth-stage cancer and don't want to burden their families.
Some of the families know, but they don't care. Some families have accepted them back after we approached them.
This is why they don't want their photos taken, because they don't want their families to know they are homeless.
So they leave the house than to be a burden on the family. They would rather die on the streets than die with the family.
The homeless people feel afraid to visit the public health clinics.
They feel neglected by society, feel left out, scared and shy especially in their current condition (as a homeless person) to seek out help.
This is why we approach them, it is the only way for them to get help.
We used to take care of a lot of orphanages and senior citizens in old folks home, but we realised most of them are getting enough help from the public.
Can do more to help poor families
Then two and a half years ago I joined Kechara Soup Kitchen as a doctor.
As I volunteered every Saturday night, I realised that we can do more to take care of poor families that need medical care and cannot afford treatment by going to their houses.
They are selected after we interview them, to see if they are really in need of medical help.
Cases are evaluated individually where for example, the father is an OKU, or he cannot work - but if the father is just lazy and seems fit, we take it on a case-by-case basis.
For families that need help we'll go to their house, wherever they are we'll try to find time to visit them, … even if that means going all the way to Seremban or Penang.
One of the families we are visiting is in Sentul, whose father is paralysed from the waist below, and the wife is semi-paralysed, where she can walk, but with 'help'.
So we've been helping them monthly since last year, providing medication, groceries, and also a caterer to give them food on a daily basis.
He had to go to the hospital thrice a week and there are costs involved.
These people have no pensions as they are in their early 40s, except for the little monthly welfare aid from the government.
We have asked if the government can provide more long-term homeless shelters to accommodate more people.
We also realised that tuberculosis patients mingle around with the others and it's easily spread. The homeless already have low immunity.
We need more jobs for the homeless people too, and have employers accept them. It's impossible to eradicate homeless people.
This story was first published on the HUMANS OF KUALA LUMPUR Facebook page. In this photography project, Mushamir Mustafa takes pictures of random people in Kuala Lumpur, who share with him a story from their lives. It features on Malaysiakini every weekend.