Poor families get new homes

National 4 minutes, 5 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

TEN underprivileged families are expected to receive new houses from the government in time to celebrate the Hari Raya festive season. The handover of houses is part of a housing assistance project for the poor and needy in Brunei, which targets the construction of at least 500 homes for such families, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

Four of the houses were handed over to recipients in various areas yesterday, while the remaining six are expected to be completed soon and handed over before Hari Raya. A further 16 houses will be completed by the end of the year, with another 32 in May 2010.

The housing project is organised by a committee which involves the coordination of the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. The committee aims to build at least 500 homes.

"Insyallah, this project will be carried out systematically and will be conducted from time to time to fulfil the applications from the poor, destitute and needy who deserve to receive (the houses)," the statement said.

The construction costs of the houses are borne by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council through the allocated zakat fund, whereas the infrastructure is covered by the government.

For one low-income family, the house they received yesterday ended more than two decades of renting houses and allowed them to settle into a "home that they could call their own".

Rosimah Untun and her family were presented with a $42,900 three-bedroom bungalow in Kg Serasa, which was completed on August 6 during a ceremony officiated by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Ahmad Hj Jumat and attended by ministry officials and residents of Kg Serasa.

"We have been living in rental houses since we got married. That was more than 20 years ago," said Jamaluddin Gazali, who spoke on his wife's behalf.

However, it was not sustainable to pay rent for the rest of our lives, added Jamaluddin, who earns roughly $600 monthly fixing and replacing tyres at a nearby car workshop.

"Who can afford to pay rent all their lives?" he asked.

He realised that he needed help in getting a house and since he could not get one on his own, he sought government assistance. He said that he applied for housing from several government agencies about 10 years ago.

When asked whether the family received any form of welfare benefits, Jamaluddin said he did not apply because he felt that he could provide for the family when it came to daily needs.

"I'm not too worried about getting welfare because I can find the money myself since it is something I am capable of doing. But getting a house is out of my reach; it's something I really cannot afford, so I have to apply (to the government) for help," he said, adding that he has always tried to be independent and fend for his own family.

The couple had three children under their care; two of them their own, while the third was a relative's child for whom they were caring for. Jamaluddin said that his eldest son was in the military's Boys' Wing Company and the other two were still at school.

He stressed the importance of his children's education while reflecting on the lack of his own during his past.

"I want my children to keep on studying. I've already lived a hard life, they shouldn't have to live the same way," he said. "I have to make sure they have a future."

Jamaluddin went on to say how the house was an integral aspect in ensuring stability in the children's lives.

"Now they have a house to call their own. They need to know that they have a house. It doesn't matter how small it is, as long as it's their own house," he added.

Similar events were also held at Kg Jerudong, Kg Orang Kaya Besar Imas and Kg Telisai.

At Kg Jerudong, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dewa Major General (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Mohammad Hj Daud officiated the handover of a single-storey house to Siah Kamis, who has 11 children.

Her husband, Jusni Hj Ahad said that they used to live in a wooden house located adjacent to the new one built on their own land for the past 15 years.

"It's a big relief to us now that we have the new house," said Jusni, a fisherman.

Our income is not guaranteed, it depends on whether the weather is good and the conditions at sea, he explained.

He added that with the new house, the children would have a better place to stay in. He also said that they will be looking forward to celebrating Hari Raya at their new home.

The Brunei Times