SMARTER seeking more funds for autism centres

National 2 minutes, 6 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Society for the Management of Autism Related Issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) is seeking more financial assistance and support from the public and agencies to maintain its autism centres for its students.

SMARTER President Malai Hj Abdullah Malai Hj Othman told _The Brunei Times _yesterday that SMARTER is in need of monetary assistance as the centres are struggling financially.

If the centres don’t receive more assistance and support, Malai Hj Abdullah believes SMARTER’s quality of service will drop.

“The quality will drop, and all these years of (hard) work will be gone,” he said.

He believes the assistance will help SMARTER maintain the centres, which will continue to help both students with autism and their parents.

According to Malai Hj Abdullah, SMARTER requires around $50,000 monthly to ensure the centres can continue to operate. He said the school fee for its students isn’t enough to cover all the expenses to run the centres.

The centres are also struggling to provide their staffs’ salaries, he said.

Currently, the autism centres are taking various actions to raise funds such as the SMARTER Autism Shop and garage sales.

SMARTER also has fund boxes on Fridays at various mosques in Kg Rimba, Kg Serusop and Kg Sengkurong.

“Hopefully, we can get support. We definitely need a lot of donations from a lot of people. If they can’t donate money, they can donate items that we can sell,” he said.

Malai Hj Abdullah said the public and agencies can donate five things that the centres require: ideas, manpower, time, items and finances.

“If people can give us all five, it would be great. Especially finances. But if we receive the four (except finances), we can still manage to generate income from them,” he said.

Over the years, SMARTER has received donations and assistance from the public and other agencies, but the president hopes for monthly assistance to ensure the centres can run smoothly. The agencies include Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (YSHHB), Tabung Amanah Islam Brunei (TAIB), Data Stream Technology (DST) Sdn Bhd and D’Sunlit Sdn Bhd.

“If we want to maintain this, the relevant agencies and the public must give us support. Anyone can help support us,” he said.

SMARTER has three centres, including the Brunei Autism Centre for Adults (BACA) in Kg Jangsak, the Autism EDGE Centre in Kg Perpindahan Mata-Mata and an EDGE Centre in Kuala Belait. According to Malai Hj Abdullah, there are a total of 113 students under SMARTER.

The Brunei Times