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Tour guides to earn dignity lower back

The office towers, shops and glitzy bars of the Malaysian capital disguise growing homelessness, a problem that prompted a social corporation to recruit street sleepers to offer vacationers unique perspectives of the town and study new abilties
however, there is any other aspect to the Malaysian capital. After maximum residents inside the city of 7.2 million have made their manner home at night, others pop out of hiding and begin seeking out a place to sleep. It can be a bench, the stairs of a building or an alleyway. Their beds are old strips of cardboard or discarded rags, at the same time as an arm serves as a pillow.

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The town’s homeless populace has been developing at an alarming charge. According to the brand new figures made to be had via Kuala Lumpur City Hall, the number of street sleepers rose from approximately six hundred in 2014 to more than 2,000 in 2015.

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In January, to lend a helping hand to the ones living on the fringes of society, social employer Yellow House KL released a programme referred to as Unseen Tours Kuala Lumpur. Its venture is to improve the employment possibilities of former road sleepers inside the capital by using schooling them to come to be tour guides. Once educated, the publications have the energy to convert their lives and benefit a degree of monetary balance.

Candidates for the jobs are advocated by way of a government-funded rehabilitation camp for the homeless known as Kem Pemantapan Jatidiri (self-identification strengthening camp).

“Unseen Tours Kuala Lumpur includes on foot tours created, designed and led via the former avenue buddies of Kuala Lumpur,” says Shyam Priah, the founder of Yellow House KL. “It is based totally on one simple ideology: who is aware of the streets better than the street humans?”

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The Unseen Tours take individuals to particular and exciting locations not visible by way of the ones signing up for conventional tour applications. “It makes the tourists’ revel in extra exciting and noteworthy,” Priah says.

Priah came up with the concept some time returned, but it best took off after she roped in Volunteering for International Professionals (VIP) – a government initiative to create a pool of gifted specialists who are enthusiastic about sharing their know-how and reports. VIP helped Priah design the excursion programme.

When it involves selecting the tour courses, Priah says: “They ought to be unfastened from substance abuse, have a sure training level and own ardor, commitment, and discipline.

“Chosen candidates undergo a random urine test every month to ensure they’re substance lose.

They additionally attend counseling periods and interact in social duty sports for emotional, bodily and spiritual well-being.”
The applicants have to be Malaysian nationals and able to speak English.

“This is paid paintings for the guides,” says Priah. “They get hold of 60 according to cent [of the fees]. The relaxation is retained with the aid of Yellow House KL to help others who were a part of the programme.”

According to Priah, the reaction up to now has been accurate. Since it becomes launched, greater than 100 tourists have made bookings.

“The testimonials and public perception were encouraging. We have additionally been approached through history and tourism companies in neighboring countries [inquiring about] how comparable tasks can be started there to boom the employability of the road community,” she says.

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Unseen Tours Kuala Lumpur gives 3 awesome on foot excursions: a haunted excursion, a road artwork excursion and a multicultural tour.

“In the haunted excursion, travelers are taken to locations and buildings in Kuala Lumpur which might be rumored to be haunted. The street art tour takes vacationers to look the innovative work of art in the city, even as the multicultural excursion brings them to places with rich cultural variety,” Priah says.

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“These tours are distinctive due to the fact they may be crafted and created via former road humans, who realize every nook and corner just like the backs in their palms.”

Each vacationer will pay fifty-five ringgit (US$13.60) and the tours last as long as two hours.

Josh Kam, a 56-yr-vintage former kitchen helper, is one of the publications. He lost his job after a coincidence and his life started out to spiral out of manipulating. He met Shyam and turned into brought to the Unseen Tours programme.

“When I became younger, I become very interested in being a tour guide but never were given the possibility. After I turned into added to this programme, I decided to provide it a strive,” says Kam.

“Yellow House KL has strict hints for training courses. We were sent to tourism classes and counseling sessions and were requested to take part in social obligation occasions as part of our capacity building.

“At first, I turned into not certain if I would be a terrific guide, however, the education I obtained geared up me with sufficient expertise to break the obstacles and alleviate my fear of now not being an amazing guide because of the stigma and discrimination street humans usually come upon.”

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Kam, who is a brief learner, says he has picked up six languages and dialects: Bahasa Malaysia, English, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien. He credits the programme for giving him the possibility to transform his life.

“I can supply something again to society and attempt to attain monetary stability. I used to be a loner, but now I mix well with people as I meet lots of tourists from one-of-a-kind nations. I additionally educate voluntarily at a refugee faculty that is controlled via Yellow House KL.

“One of the matters I like about my process is that I get to percentage testimonies about social issues, which include homelessness in our u. S. And within the travelers’ nations,” Kam says.

Ur Iffah Najat, every other manual on the programme, turned into, to begin with, nervous when asked if she wanted the opportunity to train as a guide.

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However, the 23-year-old wanted to peer an give up the poverty that had long been plaguing her circle of relatives, so she took the threat.

“I felt more confident after going through the training programme, and for the first time in my lifestyles, I felt that I become at the proper route. I am currently pursuing my research in linguistics and my financial balance has advanced, thanks to the initiative,” Najat says.

Getting there

Airlines such as Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, Malindo Air, Malaysian Airlines and Cathay Dragonfly among Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur

For more information about the excursions, go to yellowhousekl.Com/unseentourskl/ or ship a message through the Facebook web page: Yellow House KL