The continuing stories of City Poor this time covered two villages in Tabuan Melayu and Tabuan Lot on the fringe of Kuching City. In the 12 years Yayasan Pillar been visiting and engaging with village folks of some thousands in number we meet with similar conditions of hardcore poverty and neglect. Todate we have engaged with 2450 family members whose deplorable conditions continue on from grandparents to parents and to grandchildren. These are families around Kuching City only not counting the hardcore poor we engaged with in countries like Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Pakistan. While handing out Food Aid during each of our visit to these families we listened to tales of long silent sufferings their parents endured and now they and their children and grandchildren. Yayasan Pillar’s objective is to understand how these families survive under grossly deprived circumstances. If they do not receive any kind of government assistance all many years, Why Not? And How Yayasan Pillar can render follow-up help to them. If half village population are unemployed, or partially employed why so?
We were informed by Village Chief, Ibrahim Ismail, his poor village has a population of 2236 persons and less than 10% receive any kind of aid from government.
The house of Sabri who just passed away left a wife, a daughter and son living in house plundered frequently by high tide and rain bombarded them through broken down ceiling and rotten floors. Sabri’s son, Hafiz 14 years goes to school at Tabuan. He went first to year at year 5th and 6th year. You wonder why he does not understand what he is taught? Neither does read or write correctly. Why? Because his first year is year 5th. He missed out on year 1,2,3,4. What kind of system render 13 and 14 years students unable to read properly? The principal of Tabuan School Cikgu Ardi, faced a challenge which thousands of other schools do not have to deal with. What he informed us shocked me and my volunteers. He said year 6 year students in his school cannot read. And they cannot write like students of year 2.
This time I brought along my two grandsons and I was rather surprised to see their reactions to what they witnessed. This is not the first time they are exposed to deplorable conditions poor families have to endure. But to be confronted with 4 homes bearing heavy burden of mentally and Physically Disabled from 10 homes we visited was unsettling to me let alone for my 8 years old and 11 years old boys. 4 households out of 10 we engaged with has zero income and plagued by physically and mentally disabled family members. This meant Yayasan Pillar team on behalf of the city poor has to coordinate and follow-up with more than the normal department of welfare and district office. Noni’s 40 years old son is mentally handicapped.
How can they maintain their dignity when they have to beg for their daily bowl of rice and survival? How far can we justify condemning them for stealing just to survive?
5 households out of 10 households have no jobs or only have partial employment which do not give them enough to feed on let alone treat their disable family members. 50% of families live on 3U$D/per day to support a family of 6.5. Each family member live on 0.48 ¢ents per day for all needs. Sahdiah’s son 44 years old is mentally disabled. He was not able to hold on to a job longer than a day. He would scavage at rubbish bins to collect what he could to bring home to eat. He and his mother will eat when there is food and fast when there is no food.
Mr Boeing, 83 years old who is both Deaf and injured, lives with his daughter. The house is kept together by one breadwinner whose earning is not even enough to eat. His daughter is a single mother and so is the sister. They both have children. Total persons living in the house is 18. When there is nothing to eat, you guess what this family does?
Jamaiah, 72 years old, lives with her children and supported by only one breadwinner. She is deaf and partially disable. She had applied for assistance some years ago and still waiting for response.
We were told by members of Village committee that staff from Ministry of Welfare and Family would hold interviews for those poor families in need of help 4 or 5 times over the years. The families representatives would fill out the application form requesting for government assistance. The applicants then signed the forms and the Ministry staff took them away and went off without explanation or leaving anything or copies for applicants to follow up. And This has been going on for many years. Many families now are still in the dark waiting and hoping for many years for help. It appears no guidance given when filling out the application for assistance. Most village folks do not understand the terms and conditions for applying and qualifying for assistance.
Yayasan Pillar’s community help programs are often uphill challenge because it does not receive financial assistance or grant from government for several years. Yayasan Pillar community welfare activities are always fully supported by individual donors and companies which also Sponsor all Food Aid hand outs. Many thanks to our sponsors Nestle, Sarawak Flour Mill, Pawada and all anonymous who contributed. How can we thank all donors and sponsors enough for sharing this burden with us? Thank you all and may Allah always Berkati you donors and sponsors.