Homeless family gets ‘shelter’ finally

National 2 minutes, 34 seconds

BELAIT

A HOMELESS family of six who have been sleeping in their car and living in a loosely constructed zinc shack have been offered temporary shelter at OKPB Bukit Sawat Primary School.

Mother of four Nur Liyana Abdullah Nanting told The Brunei Times yesterday that her family has been living at the school’s old canteen for close to two weeks, as she and her husband struggle to find permanent employment.

“I previously worked at a sawmill nearby, but was forced to stop about four months ago due to my stomach and other health problems,” she said.

During her five years at the sawmill, where she was paid $15 for a day’s work, Nur Liyana and her family stayed at the sawmill’s workers’ quarters.

“When I quit, my employer was kind enough to allow us to stay for a couple of months.

“We eventually moved back to my husband’s plot of land in Sg Mau, and rebuilt a shack made out of zinc, as our actual house on that land had burned down many years ago,” said the 43-year-old.

Nur Liyana’s husband is also unemployed, claiming to have a persistent hip injury after working heavy labour at the same sawmill, as well as a number of other jobs.

The family’s plight came to light after teachers from OKPB Bukit Sawat Primary School noticed that Nur Liyana’s three sons, all Year Six students, began to show signs of lethargy and distress during classes.

“All three of them will be sitting for the Primary School Assessment examinations this year, and we began to notice a pattern among them that they were feeling very tired and troubled. We talked to them and they told us their predicament,” said Siti Yusrinah Md Azuin, who is in charge of the welfare of students from Bukit Sawat Primary School.

Two out of the three brothers, Azrin and Azhar Abdullah, are 16 and 15 years old respectively, having enrolled late into primary school.

“With the Compulsory Education Act being in force, it is very important for these three to be attending classes, so the temporary arrangement of having them stay at the school canteen works,” she added.

Nur Liyana and her husband claim that they do not receive any form of assistance or welfare, monetary or otherwise from the government, except for their children, who receive an annual donation of school supplies and stationery through the Ministry of Education’s Najah Miftahun (Keys to Success) Scheme.

The couple are now seeking assistance through their village head to rebuild their house on their plot of land in Sg Mau, while also searching for employment opportunities in the vicinity.

“We have been offered government barrack housing in Lorong 3, Seria before, but we declined the offer since we do not have jobs in Seria or proper transport.

“Where we are from (Bukit Sawat and Merangking) is very far from Kuala Belait and Seria. If we remain unemployed, it is easier for us to support ourselves here because we can fish and collect scrap metal for sale,” she said.

The Brunei Times