Monday, January 28, 2008

RM1 a day can help shape a child's future

I REALISE that it'll take more than RM1 a day to change people's lifes. But it's a start. At RM1 a day (that's RM30 a month), the 25 orphans getting the benefit of the generosity of friends and well-wishers have a bit more money to spend

They may want to buy a new pen, get a pair of new school shoes or maybe treat themselves to some story books. Heck, they may just want to enjoy the ABC (air batu campor) just outside the school gate.

Last weekend, many of the orphans came to collect the donations themselves, accompanied by their father or mother or guardian. One child said he's been wanting to buy the school T-shirt while another said he wants to use it to buy fuel for his mother's motorbike.

A widow who supports her three school-going children, including one in a boarding school in another state, spoke softly of her appreciation of donors. My son who is studying in another state says thank you to all donors for helping to ease the burden's family, she said.

But she has one child who is not schooling, and confided that she's grappling with discipline problems and this has caused her sleepless nights. She's troubled by her son's glue-sniffing habits. Just recently, she managed to send the boy to a pondok, a religious school, where she hoped the boy could turn over a new leaf.

The headmaster of the village school was also present when the donations were given out. I hoped that Cikgu Hanifah will rally behind these children and help them improve academically. His words have been very encouraging, and we are going to work closely to help make a difference.

I'm putting up a simple structure to get a tuition centre going. This will not be confined to the orphans, but to other children as well. Maybe the UPSI in nearby Tg Malim can lend a hand in this initiative. After all, the university produces teacher-graduates. What better to get acquainted with real-life situation than by getting in educating the community!

I hope to share with you some developments in a couple of weeks time. Meanwhile, the village folks are waiting for the fruit season to start because they are eager to invite donors to the kampong to enjoy the durians, rambutan and mangosteens. And maybe take a dip in the ice-cold water of the famous Sg Bill...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Doa dan harapan dalam perjuangan

pisang emas dibawa belayar
masak sebiji di atas peti
hutang emas boleh dibayar
hutang budi dibawa mati

THE best THANK YOU I can give is in the form of my daily doa to the Almighty for friends who joined me in helping the 24 orphans in Kg Behrang, off Tg Malim. The first contribution to these school-going children was made on the eve of Maal Hijrah, and done with the assistance of the Pak Imam and the Mosque committee.

It was a very small do. But it's a start of what I hope, and believe, to be a journey of considerable significance to all of us involved in the project. As I said, the RM1 a day donation, which works out to RM30 a month or RM360 a year, may yet help make a difference to these children.

Looked after either by their surviving father or mother, these children will be given educational assistance in the form of tuition and skill enhancement once the infrastructure for these initiatives have been completed. InsyaAllah, there are already willing hands to make light these efforts.

For your information, these children survive on the meagre earnings of their guardian who are either odd-job workers in the kampong or employees of nearby establishments with small salaries. In the final analysis, we must all help these children to learn to fish, rather than giving them a fish a day to feed themselves.

At this point in time, I want to place my appreciation to the following individuals who have come forward to help these orphans. As most of you have indicated, you want to remain anonymous. But I feel some form of recognition is necessary. Hence, you may just find nicknames and the like.

They are: Dato Abdullah, Zainal Bo-Den, Rocky, Ashraf, Apau, Chein, Feroz, ZulB, Cik, Cha, Lan MK, Jam, Wan Sab, Sham & Jat and Sabri. A special thank for Karim Sulaiman, who is undergoing treatment for his rare skin disease at HKL. Without all of your support, it would have been impossible to start this venture.

I'll be sending each of you a text message on how you can continue to contribute. I'm keeping records of these donations, and a qualified accountant is assisting me in maintaining the books which can be viewed at any time. As I said, this RM1 a day initiative is based on trust and a shared believe that we must all do our part to help our brothers and sisters.

You can make a monthly contribution or choose to do it every quarterly, or even once a year. I hope you can join us when we hand over our next donation, hopefully on Jan 28 or 29. Soon, when the fruit season starts, I'll be inviting you to sample some of the durians or rambutans or mangosteens found in abundance in Kg Behrang.

Kg Behrang is just five minutes away from Proton City, and we must help the kampong folks realise that there are opportunities which can help improve their income and work towards a better quality of life. But that, my friends, is another initiative altogether...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thank you for your RM1 - it's a beginning

anakku sayang
baju sekolahmu telah koyak
tiada gantinya, nak.
tampallah lagi
tahun ini buku sekolahmu, siapa membeli?
dan seperti ayahmu
mimpilah, mimpilah anak-anakku
jika mimpi masih milikmu lagi;
kau akan belajar ke universiti.

usman awang
jun 1968

RM1 a day won't take us far nowadays. Heck, it may not even get us a decent roti canai and teh tarik anymore! But RM1 day, accumulated over 30 days and over 12 months, can make a difference. At least, that's what I'm banking on.

I drove in silence to Masjid Behrang Ulu, some 70km from KL. It doesn't take more than half an hour, toll to toll, and no heavy traffic. By the time I reached the masjid, the Isya' prayers was just about to finish. After the doa was read, everyone sat back and gathered around.

Razali acted as emcee while Manan and the Tok Imam gave away the money collected from donors to 24 school-going orphans. In less than 10 minutes everything was over. The appropriate thank you was said and we adjourned to the buffet area for a simple dinner prepared by Yassin and his gang.

There were plenty of questions over the dinner table. Who gave this donation? Will there be more? Will you be helping the aged and the poor? When is the next donation? How much was in the envelope? Was this a one-time only contribution?

The kampong folks are full of questions. And hopes. I just told them that I'm very fortunate to have some good friends who are both generous and sincere in helping the orphans. And that when I SMSed them, they unhesitatingly gave their support to this initiative.

I asked the kampong folks only one thing - that they too must play their part if they want to see their kampong get out from the backwaters of development into the mainstream of national prosperity. At the moment, Manan and Razali are doing most of the legwork in this initiative. Without their time and effort, it would have been extremely difficult to get this far.

It's going to take a lot more work to get things organised. I must at this point thank all of you who have contributed. My friends, it is my doa for the Hijrah 1429 that you and I take this journey to help these orphans to prepare themselves for a better future. I'm quite sure that education will be the best help we can give these children, all children for that matter. (That would be Stage II of this initiative).

I'm reminded of al-Ghazali's words when he wrote about the 'Duties of Brotherhood.' There are eight duties in all. In it, al-Ghazali said: "The second duty is to render personal aid in the satisfaction of needs, attending to them without waiting to be asked, and giving them priority over private needs."

The story is told that in the early days, a Muslim would see to the maintenance of his brother's wife and children for 40 years after his brother's death, attending to their needs...and providing for them from his wealth so that they missed only the father's person...

In the coming weeks and months, I'll share with you other initiatives. I've asked Tony to help get some details of an orphanage nearer to KL, and hopefully I can get more friends to join. You and I are not supported by any wealthy foundation my friends, but I hope we can build a lasting foundation for our brothers and sisters regardless of race, creed or colour.

Meanwhile, enjoy the break. Salam Maal Hijrah!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I need RM1 a day from you to help orphans

Sometime last year I said I'd do a small collection for orphans in the new year. Nothing much. Just RM1 a day which works out to RM30 per month.

I've managed to gather 24 orphans for a start. They are all kampong kids who now depend on the generosity of their relatives to see them through.

In starting this, I'm asking friends on the strength of trust and affordability. There were quite a number of commentators who wanted to participate. Well, you are more than welcomed. One friend just sent me an SMS saying he'll sponsor five kids!

I'm also hoping that I can start a small tuition centre for them, and for other children who are taking their exams this year. I'd rather start something small but meaningful. Giving them RM30 can help them have some pocket money, or even buy books or shoes or whatever.

I hope these children will do well in their studies. With a few friends, I'll be monitoring their progress in school and hopefully their teachers can also lend a hand. The best way we all can help these children is via education.

I'll be posting updates on these children from time to time. The imam from the mosque has agreed to help speak to these children too, and hopefully we can all do something to make sure they have a better future.

If you are keen to participate, drop me a line and I'll tell you how to do it. I've also spoken to a few other community leaders to widen the net in search for these orphans. Hopefully, within the next few weeks, I can have more orphans for us to help.

Let me share an SMS I received this evening which seemed to aptly demonstrate this whole exercise. It says: "Sometimes we put too much passion on the biggest dreams and priorities in life that we fail to love the smallest pleasures from simple things...We search so much for the right choices, for the right paths to walk through, for the right time and for the right reasons.

"But life isn't always about searching for the things than can be found. It is about letting the unexpected happen and finding things you never searched for..."


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Any more skeletons in the Cabinet?

Like every other person, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is not a paragon of virture. But he's definitely a man of honesty, a person who must be admired for his quickness of mind and surefootness of action.

A day after admitting that he was the person caught on video for his sexual indiscretions, the former Health Minister resigned from his Government post and all party positions in the MCA. Lesser individuals, and politicians, would probably try to weave their way out of trouble and seek to maintain their innocence.

No one is an angel, and Dr Chua is no exception. But the manner in which he publicly admitted his indiscretion, and subsequently announced his resignation in a dignified and controlled manner, speaks volume of the man's conduct.

Of greater significance in the whole episode is the extent which Dr Chua's enemies had gone to get their man. This must be fully investigated, both to bring the culprits to answer for their misdeed, and to establish who is the mastermind behind this gross invasion of privacy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi is spared the embarassment of having have to sack his senior Cabinet member, but only so. Pak Lah may have to do a 360 degree check on his remaining Cabinet colleagues to see if there's any more skeletons in the cupboard.

If one is to believe the grapevine, there could be a few more, given the length and breadth of the country. How many more of these offenders are serving the people? Will we ever know? Will they be able to pull wool over their bosses' eyes, again that is?