Social media aids poor family

National 2 minutes, 37 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

HELP has started pouring in for a family of three who have been relying on a monthly old age pension of $250 to survive after photos and messages on their plight went viral yesterday on social media.

When The Brunei Times visited the family, officials from the Brunei Muara District Office and the Community Development Department (JAPEM) were seen taking down their details.

The 88-year-old head of the family, Kabur Abdul Lamit, said a lot of people were visiting them mostly after learning about their situation from Whatsapp and Facebook to offer them help and assistance, including food provisions.

While some of them were concerned individuals, he said some of them may have belonged to a government agency or non-governmental organisations.

Nevertheless, he said he was grateful for the assistance, as food supplies had always been a challenge for the family.

Asnah Anyuk, Kabur’s 53-year-old wife, said this was because the family has been surviving on Kabur’s monthly old age pension of only $250.

Of that amount, $200 is being spent on food and drinks, while the rest is used on other expenditures that may arise, including for extra food should they run out of their monthly rations.

Asnah said they will mostly buy rice. For side dishes, she said the family has to ask from people.

However, both Kabur and his wife considered their condition an improvement from their previous situation, where they were forced to solely depend on money Kabur collected from cutting grass in various areas.

Kabur previously worked for Radio Televisyen Brunei (RTB) as a grass cutter, but his employment ended in 1987, prompting him to look for work elsewhere.

Asnah said if Kabur was lucky during those times, he might be called by many people to cut their grass, where he might only make around $30 per day.

The family was never able to afford a car, let alone school books, uniforms and supplies for their only child, Mohd Ariffin Kabur, who never had the chance to get a proper education and is now 33 years old.

The family has also never been to the hospital for medical checkups, with Kabur claiming that he’s still healthy despite being in his late 80s.

Asnah also said the place they are currently living in – an apartment unit with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom – is provided by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), which costs around $400 a month, inclusive of water and electricity.

The family, she said, had a house in Kg Madang which Kabur had inherited from his parents, but they had to move out in 2007 as the lease period for the government land on which it was built had expired.

Both Asnah and Kabur have no close relatives left to depend on as Asnah’s parents passed away in 1973 and Kabur is the only one left in his family.

Acting Brunei-Muara District Officer Mislee Hj Abd Karim said the District Office will be bringing in the main parties involved in handling issues of the underprivileged, including JAPEM and MUIB, to investigate the family’s condition and decide on the assistance to be provided.

The Brunei Times