Faiz Qayyuum: Ex-Troubled Teen Turned Activist Helping The Marginalised 

Faiz Qayyuum Abdul Majid knows a thing or two about giving second chances to those who need them the most. His colourful past involved befriending the wrong crowd as a teenager, leading to his involvement in gangsterism and drugs. The 32-year-old Semenyih lad has had his fair share of misdeeds and spent jail time after being arrested due to gangsterism.

When I was 21, I was arrested for my involvement in gangsterism. It was a massive hit for me and after I got out, I was determined to change myself for the better. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)[1]

When the world seemed to have given up on him with his future remaining uncertain, especially with less than stellar SPM results, his late mother did not. His mother continuously believed that Faiz was capable of turning into a new leaf.

Source: Faiz’s personal archive

She’s the one who pulled me out of my slump. My late mother is one of my supporters. She always believed that I could do it when things got tough. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

To Faiz, the multiple second chances his late mother readily bestowed strengthened his belief that everyone deserves second chances, despite their mistakes.

We should understand that people make mistakes, so if we are not the ones who lend our hand to help them, who else? – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

A Renewed Sense Of Purpose 

Faiz’s active involvement in volunteering until today started with him joining his sister and volunteering at Chow Kit. One day, he received a message on social media that an NGO was looking for volunteers for “high-risk children” living in Chow Kit for a theatre screening at KLPac.

I contacted the coordinator at the NGO and registered as a volunteer to join the programme, even though at that time I wasn’t sure what volunteering would involve. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)[2]

Source: Harian Metro

That interaction sparked his sustained interest in doing good.  His first steps included gathering more information on being a volunteer. He attended courses on volunteerism with a local foundation. His active involvement since 2012 led to his foray into humanitarian missions, including “Misi Mafraq, Jordan”, #RevisitBangladesh 2018, #Ohana ke Acheh 2018, and #Misi Dapur Sulawesi 2018, helping marginalised communities including refugees abroad. 

Despite travelling to different parts of Malaysia and the world, the streets of Chow Kit are a special place to Faiz.

Every few months, I’ll walk in Chow Kit to observe the changes. Talk to the community there. The streets of Chow Kit are where I learnt the most. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

Chow Kit, A Place Of Rebirth To Faiz 

Source:

In Chow Kit, where Faiz ran multiple programmes with the homeless under various NGOs and volunteer groups, he saw the communities that are often frowned upon by society with a fresh pair of eyes, and he held casual conversations with homeless children, street-walkers, transgenders, drug users and bapak ayam.

It is his approachable demeanour and strong empathy for each one of them that makes it easier for the community to trust Faiz and share their stories.

Once, a 7-year-old boy told me about drugs. The boy had comprehensive knowledge of drugs, how to use them and so on. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

Faiz, who was once a troubled youth, was dismayed that in the capital of Malaysia, children are falling into a cycle of social ills. Faiz went through his dark episodes after his parent’s divorce and was determined to offer as many chances to the youth of tomorrow. Since 2014, Faiz has been on the ground understanding the community and providing the necessary help to the homeless community and “high-risk” children.

We need to understand that all of us make mistakes and choose the wrong path. But, like every other human being, the marginalised have needs too. It is up to us to lend our hands to help them before it’s too late, and not to punish them further. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

Dealing With Critiques

With over a decade of serving the marginalised communities, Faiz had received raised eyebrows and unkind words from many.

In 2017, when he was looking for sponsorships for Misi Mafraq Jordan, some questioned his abilities. The mission was his first time travelling abroad, but some have nitpicked that his lack of academic achievements would lead to his downfall.

I approached a few people, a few NGOs to support the project. But most have said things like: “the project will fail “, “ you’re not a degree holder,” and “you won’t survive.” – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

Eventually, Faiz approached Yayasan Salam Malaysia and they supported his humanitarian mission to Jordan.

Some argued that he should stop feeding the homeless, as many of the public are still prejudiced against the community.

I have had arguments when it comes to providing food for the homeless. But my answer to them would be: a packet of rice is also a thousand hopes for them to continue surviving. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

To Faiz, being homeless doesn’t equate to being hopeless, there is a sense of determination that he witnessed from the community to continue surviving.

The Beauty Of Volunteering

Despite the negativity he has received for helping both the LGBTQ and homeless communities, there is a beauty to behold in volunteering.

Being a volunteer isn’t limited in the kind of help you can offer, as long as your help is bringing a smile to someone else’s face. Your job is done. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

A smile on the people he helped is the reward Faiz needed to continue his work and venture into different projects, wearing different caps.

Source: Harian Metro

In August 2022, Faiz was involved in a project with Fitrah Qaseh, a home for children in Johor. The project saw Faiz writing and directing a theatre performance with the children running the whole show, from acting to the wardrobe and make-up, for a charity dinner.

The children were allowed to explore how to create the wardrobe, what kind of makeup and who were selected as actors. Some of my friends also helped to develop the children’s talents further. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

Like the many roles he plays as a volunteer, Faiz has established different projects for various causes since 2019. After the passing of his late mother due to cancer, Faiz initiated Hadiah Untuk Mak, a project that focuses on serving cancer patients.

In 2020, when the world halted momentarily, Faiz continued delivering food and necessities to those who sought his help. But that same year, Faiz was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Deflecting the chip on his shoulders, Faiz returned to things he loved doing once restrictions eased. Kembara Buat Baik saw Faiz travelling to different areas in Peninsular Malaysia.

So one of my friends told me, it’s time for you to travel back and do things that I love. That’s why I initiated Kembara Buat Baik. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

But, a cause that will always be close to him is engaging with the marginalised and providing them with the chance to become better people.

From One Volunteer To Another 

Faiz, who was recently appointed as the President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)  has received Leadership Award by Yayasan Salam Malaysia 2016, “Gold Award 2017”, and GEMA Hero Award shared that being a full-time social worker requires a heart and intention set on providing the needs of the community.

Through the years, Faiz witnessed many who were eager to help fall off track once they forgot their original aim.

Source: Gempak

I have met a few people who were eager to do volunteering and helping others. But one day, pride took over them,  and they forgot why they were doing this. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

Some have quit realising that money doesn’t come easy when doing good.

To those who are still volunteering, their focus shifted to gaining more income not on how to help people. I understand that we need money to survive, but the focus of social work should be to help people. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM)

Despite these, Faiz recognises that the key to being a volunteer is to sit down and listen. There is much to be learned from listening to the stories of the homeless children roaming Chow Kit, the street-walkers and the drug user. One of the stories that inspired Faiz to continue his work is the story of a former lecturer who turned drug abuser.

There’s this one kakak, people called her crazy. She’s a former lecturer who started taking drugs because of her abusive husband. Despite people calling her names, she was teaching the children in Chow Kit. Her story shows me that there’s kindness in each one of us. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM) 

The story of the former lecturer is a testament that no one is truly bad in this world. It is crucial to understand that those who are troublemakers in society have their own stories left unheard.

Give Anak Muda Chances 

Faiz was extended another go to carve a new path for himself before it was too late, thanks to his mother’s constant support. Now, he believes that the first step to changing troubled youths is to give them chances and provide them with a sound role model.

If my mum gave me a second chance to fix myself. I believe that everyone should be given the same chance. That’s why I’m doing this, I’m always giving people second chances. No matter how many, I’ll continue giving you chances to become a better person. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM) 

Source: SUARA TV

Slowly, Faiz is steering the marginalised in Chow Kit and nationwide to become better people and polish their potential through motivational talks.

There are still sceptics that put down his efforts in helping the transgender, the street-walkers and the homeless. But Faiz chooses to ignore their judgements and vows to help them as long as he can.

I choose to help them. As long as I’m alive, I’ll try my best to help them. – Faiz Qayyuum, President of Volunteering Trip Malaysia(VTM) 

Explore our sources:

  1. V.Devi. (2022). Ex-gangster guides troubled teens off dark path. The Star. Link 
  2. A.F.Mohd Nasir. (2021). Faiz Qayyum: Anak Muda Liar Menjadi Aktivis Masyarakat. SUARA TV. Link

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