During last 12 years Yayasan Pillar has carried out 3 community help projects for the forgotten families of Semariang. This is 3rd small yet needy assistance these families badly need. In this Semariang Sungai Midin village, Kuching, Yayasan Pillar team is confronted with continuing poverty which burdened the handicapped, the blind, and the mentally deficient families.
Mr Samat Sulaiman, in his 50s, works as a daily paid security guard despite limping. He admitted his deficiency and disability in the event his job meets with challenges. He is being employed purely on humanitarian basis. He met with an accident which rendered him physically handicapped, yet did not prevent him from working even harder. Unfortunately his local representatives neglect his pleads for the very basic things in life such as water. The narrow planks linking the road to his house on water had to be physically constructed by him and his boys as well.
Another disabled person who was interviewed was Mr Kestello, who is blind. His visibility in daylight is about half that of average people but almost total blind at night. He lives with his wife and 5 children in a slanted small house, which the house is pulling the power cable as it slanted more and more as time passed by. They applied for small low cost house several times back then, but no news was heard even after 10 years of waiting. Certified as a blind person, Kestello applied and received only RM400 a month which is barely enough to support himself let alone provides for his children. This forces him to work as a casual labourer despite the dire consequences of accidents if and when his eyesight failed him.
Other than met with disabled family members in this trip, Yayasan Pillar sometimes was called upon to settle disputes and misunderstanding between families and parties. This time Two grand old men who are neighbours living directly across the road to each other and at the same time very close buddies became strangers, deliberately avoiding each other and spoke ill of each other behind each others’ backs. Their dispute was triggered by misunderstanding and ignorance which led to one of them losing his job. Yayasan Pillar intervened and brought peace to their doorsteps. The two grand old men are now buddies once more.
Continuing on, we met Alli Napiah, who has difficulty in hearing. His mother spent more than 40 years of her life and continuing caring for her 2 mentally retarded sons. She is in her late sixties. Her mentally retarded sons are in their 40ties. For this family of 9 there is only one source of income which barely could feed 9 stomachs. From an earning of less than Rm1000 a month the family on some days will have one meal of rice or noodle. No assistance from the Welfare Department. They are illiterate and unsure of how to go about getting any kind of government assistance. They receive nothing from the government that could help relieve their compounded misery. And no one from the Welfare Department even noticed the horrendous situation of Napiah’s family let alone render them some assistance.
Next stop, we reached Puan Yantinah’s house. Puan Yatinah’s family too is another unfortunate victim of our yet to be reviewed social/welfare system. Both poverty and handicapped children fell on her laps. Her husband is a casual work earning an average Rm400 per month as and when he found a temporary job like cutting down trees or clearing bushes. Yatinah’s two daughters in their teens are physically handicapped. They receive assistance of Rm150/month for her two handicapped daughters for food and medicine. In all the years when they were in that dire condition, Yatinah only received one off Rm300 incentive from Federal government. Nothing at all from the Welfare Department of Sarawak. She registered with E-Kaseh but that did not help her in any way. Later she updated her E-Kaseh data and again applied for assistance based on her status as Malaysian core poor family. Still nothing even now. Yayasan Pillar will follow-up with the relevant department and hopes she becomes noticeable enough not to be rejected again and again.
What are the loop holes in our social and welfare system? Is it not a shame to allow so much miscarriage of practices when Malaysian government at every yearly Budget allocates enough to address welfare issues? Why not analyse these issues Now before a Molehill problem became a mountain problem?
Yayasan Pillar’s subsequent role is to distribute food aid and assists the families to follow up on their applications or cases with the relevant departments. Without the generosity of sponsoring companies, it would be rather difficult for Yayasan Pillar to continue with its community help projects.
We thank you all, our loyal and caring sponsors and donors all these while.