BINTULU: Travelling to the interior areas of Sarawak has been an eye-opening experience for Kelvin Wan and his volunteer teams as they double up their efforts in charity work to help less fortunate groups.
Through a non-profit organisation, Hope Place Kuching and its partner Bintulu 4×4 Club, they have visited many needy families in the state and distributed various kinds of assistance.
This year under its Charity Without Borders No.5 programme, Wan and his volunteers will be heading to Sri Aman on Dec 8 to 10. Last Saturday, they went to Sri Aman to identify needy villages that might need help.
“From Sri Aman to Pantu junction is 58km. Actually, from Pantu junction to Kampung Tabung, it is only 14km but this off-road part takes us more than one hour to arrive at the village,” Wan told The Borneo Post after returning from Sri Aman.
Upon their arrival at the village, they were all shocked but at the same time amazed with the strength of an elderly man climbing up a cotton tree.
Wan was told by the villagers that the elderly man, identified as Mail Nyawen, 85, has been living alone. He has been staying in the village for more than 30 years and his wife passed away many years ago.
Although he has three children, none of them ever came back to visit him for the past 10 years.
Wan even asked Mail why he risked his life to climb up a cotton tree, to which the elderly man replied: “I need some cotton to make my own pillow and blanket. I have no money to buy a pillow and blanket.” Uncle Mail’s house has almost collapsed, inside was very dark and dirty and we are so sad for Uncle Mail’s poor living condition,” said Wan.
One of the volunteers, Ellen Samuel who is a teacher, then suggested the team give Mail some food, which Wan said was actually prepared for themselves for the trip.
They later went to a 14-door longhouse, which was built in 1973 and home to about 60 inhabitants, according to longhouse chief Jalak Muyang. However, now all its young residents have migrated to Kuching, Bintulu and Miri to work, leaving over 20 people behind, including elders, mothers and small children, Jalak said.
Wan added the longhouse used a generator for electricity and water is supplied by the mountain.
During their interview with members of the Village Security and Development Committee, they noticed two elderly persons with disabilities (OKU) who needed help and requested for walking sticks. Wan and his team members later reached another village, Kampung Menuang, which has two longhouses.
The chief of one of the longhouses, Medang Jongga, suffers from a knee problem since 10 years ago and cannot walk. The longhouse has three single mothers. Wan said they hoped to provide some help in the form of food and milk powder to the three widows.
The second longhouse is Rumah Jemat Tengah, which took them 20 minutes to reach by foot.
“But the good news is the government has promised to build a road to the village by June 2017. Most of the residents here are rubber tappers and they only generate income of RM250 to RM400 per month in dry season,” he said.
Presently, the longhouse folk had to carry their rubber sheets on foot for 30 minutes to the main road every Saturday, where they waited for vehicles to collect them.
Usually two four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles will come to collect and buy the rubber sheets from them and at the same time, the drivers would bring along some essential items to sell to the villagers.
According to Wan, for this charity programme, among the items needed are rice (300 10kg packs); biscuit (600 boxes); noodles (300 boxes); sugar (300kg); salt (300kg); Milo (300 packs); PVC carpet (two rolls); blankets (150 pieces) and towels (150 pieces).
Those who wish to contribute can contact Hope Place Kuching at 013-5672775 or 082-683378.
Hope Place Kuching is a non-governmental organisation that visits poor and less fortunate families to contribute essential food items.
Source: The Borneo Post