Widow seeks aid to fix Seria home

National 2 minutes, 19 seconds

BELAIT

A WIDOWED mother living cramped up with her 11 children and grandchildren in a two bedroom government barrack housing unit in Lorong 3, Seria is seeking help to repair her house which was damaged by a fire two years ago.

61-year-old Muneerah Abdullah told The Brunei Times yesterday that she was forced to abandon her house in Seria, formerly under her late husband, after a fire broke out during Hari Raya festivities, severely damaging one room and the house’s electrical system.

“We moved into the barrack housing, after we’re put up by the Belait District Office at a rest house in Kuala Belait for around six months,” said Muneerah, who is a Muslim convert of Chinese descent.

Showing the cramped living conditions in her housing unit yesterday, the mother of five pointed to the four to five mattresses placed on the floors of both rooms as where her family sleeps.

They have also cordoned off a section of their living room, which is without almost any furniture, with cardboard and plywood to form a third small room. Rental for the unit is $45 excluding utilities.

Out of her five children, only two are able to bring in income; one is employed by a company on ‘pay as you work’ basis, while the other is a fisherman. Two are divorced with children, while another is married without kids.

Muneerah is also supported by her old age pension of $250 per month, a chunk of which she funnels into buying wholesale fresh produce from Sabah, which she then sells door-to-door in her neighbourhood.

“Every month is a struggle. My children do not have much higher education so finding a job for them has been difficult, so they do some odd-end part-time jobs so we can scrape up enough to get by,” she said.

The Village Head of Lorong 3 Hj Sadin Hj Ibrahim has come out in support of Muneerah's plea for help, claiming that the village and mukim consultative councils of Lorong 3 and Seria have been struggling to find the financial backing needed – estimated at $20,000 – to repair the house.

“We (the consultative councils) have been helping out the family with monthly donations of essential food and house supplies – but unfortunately we have not been able to find a party willing and able to fix the house,” said Hj Sadin yesterday.

Muneerah also added that the passing of her husband seven years ago has made it all the more difficult for the family to overcome the aftermath of the fire.

“We sorely miss my late husband as he was able to support us. When we were hit by the fire we had to move out. We had nowhere to go, no place to stay if the District Office did not provide us this unit,” she said.

The Brunei Times