‘Fidyah programme may shut down’

National 3 minutes, 12 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Council on Social Welfare (MKM) will have to end its fidyah programme in the middle of next year if it doesn’t receive new contributions.

“We can only sustain the programme if people continue to trust MKM with their fidyah payments and trust us to distribute these payments,” the head of the programme, Hj Yusof Halim, said recently.

In Islam, fidyah is a type of payment distributed to the less fortunate to compensate for each day of fasting missed by a Muslim during the month of Ramadhan.

Under the programme, the money collected is used to help feed needy pupils every school day, which began this year in February and will run until the end of the year.

The NGO, which was established in 2009 to address social issues in the country, currently has over $67,000 to run the programme. As of January 30 this year, most of the money was from fidyah payments, but more than 30 per cent came from contributions from the public.

The scheme spends $168 every school day, equivalent to around $35,000 per year for 168 pupils in four schools.

Students’ families must be classified as destitute or poor to qualify for the welfare programme. Pupils enrolled in the programme are given identification cards which identify them as recipients of food and drinks from their canteen during school days. Each student is eligible for a total of $1 worth of food and drinks per day.

The programme was launched in 2014 for 57 pupils of Hj Muhammad Salleh Primary School in Kg Sungai Hanching.

In 2015, 29 pupils from Sengkurong Primary School received the assistance, while another 40 pupils from Tanah Jambu Primary School and 40 pupils from Abdul Bubin Primary School are receiving it this year.

Hj Yusof said they have plans to extend the programme to other schools, but there is a need to secure the funding for it first.

“Yes, we have plans. In fact, we’ve been approached by many schools to expand this programme to their schools, but the problem is we have to get the funds first. We don’t have money; we aren’t assisted by the government or anything.

“We really need people to help us, to trust us because I believe that MKM is doing very good work. We need people to assist us so that we can assist them (the needy). So far, Alhamdulillah, we’ve received good assistance, but we need more,” he said.

He added that the programme also received contributions from non-Muslims.

“There are also people who like the programme and give contributions (not as part of payment for fidyah). We even have non-Muslims who donated to the programme. We make a pledge to all donors that 100 per cent of their money will go to the children,” he said.

“If you donate to a specific programme - for example, the school feeding programme - our promise is that 100 per cent of the donation goes to them. If you donate to MKM, we will use some of the money for administrative fees, but I’m happy to note that so far, we only use five per cent for this. Even when people donate to us, we don’t want to use it. We want to use all the money for the needy.”

For Hj Yusof, the feeding programme has many uses.

“We are one of the ways in which Muslims can fulfil their fidyah obligations, and for the pupils, the programme provides food for them.

“They had poor attendance because they were hungry and had problems going to school. What we found out when we first started this programme was their school attendance had improved. Because they are only being fed if they attend school, their attendance had improved,” he said.

For more information on the programme and to donate, visit the council’s website at http://www.mkmbrunei.com/.

The Brunei Times