Helping the needy throughout the year

Rizal Faisal

The Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM) has been running local projects to assist the needy at regular intervals since 2012.

These include daily, weekly, monthly, Ramadhan projects and more.

An example of a daily project is the Fidyah School Feeding Programme held every school day. The project educates the Muslims on their obligation to pay Fidyah – which is a penalty for not fasting during Ramadhan and failing to Qadha before the next Ramadhan. The penalty is paid by feeding the poor. From money collected through Fidyah, MKM is providing assistance in food and drinks to over 330 primary school students in 13 schools.

This is done by coordinating with the schools and the school canteen operators, where students in the programme will get food from the canteen and MKM will pay it at the end of the month.

The schools that MKM has provided such assistance shared that the programme helped to regularise the attendance of these students. Also these students showed improvement in their school work.

Incumbent MKM President Mohd Yusof bin Shaikh Abdul Halim said, “Aside from those who entrusted the distribution of their Fidyah to MKM, direct donations from the public are also being channelled into this programme. Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP), impressed with the programme, took over four of the schools that MKM is assisting and with the help from MKM, they are going to start the programme in two additional schools.

A family receives a helping hand from members of Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM). PHOTO: MKM

“We also provide cooked food to special needs families, where in a necessary case, who are unable to cook their own food. This is done by coordinating with nearby restaurants.”

Speaking on their weekly projects, Mohd Yusof said, “We run a weekly ‘Legal Advice and Advisory Clinic’ between 7pm and 9pm on Wednesdays at the premises of Yusof Halim & Partners. This clinic assists needy families by directing and assisting eligible families to welfare assistance provided by the government and other organisations such as the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB).”

“With the cooperation of two local law firms – Yusof Halim & Partners and Syarikat Ibrahim Al-Haj – we provide legal advice and service to those with legal problems who meets the eligibility criteria. By the end of 2017, MKM had advised and assisted 256 welfare matters, given legal advice in 99 matters and took 36 cases to court. All advice and cases brought to court are done on a ‘probono’ or free basis,” he said.

MKM also conducts weekly Al-Quran classes for children of MKM members as well as children of the needy.

On MKM’s monthly projects, Mohd Yusof said that they provide basic food necessities to around 30 families every month.

“We obtained funds through direct donations. Basic food necessities are purchased on a monthly basis and are distributed. We hope to extend this service by encouraging more members of the public to participate. The cost of sustaining a family ranges between BND70 to BND120 per month.”

MKM, in the monthly project, includes a free monthly public talk on legal and social issues titled ‘Bicara Undang-Undang’ (Conversations on Law) in collaboration with Yusof Halim & Partners. The talk is free and open to members of the public.

“Talks have been given on divorce and matters relating to divorce (maintenance, custody and other financial provisions) as well as on wills and wealth management and distribution,” said Mohd Yusof.

During Ramadhan, MKM would extend Persungkaian Distribution by providing cooked food to needy families for the breaking of the fast. It is done on a daily basis for 14 days from the first day of Ramadhan and food is given to about 500 needy people per day. The food for the first day of Ramadhan includes Bubur Lambuk, a traditional food for breaking the fast and is cooked by members and volunteers of MKM. Food for the remaining 13 days in Ramadhan is catered from restaurants.

“Our abled-clients collect the food from our office, while, we distribute the remaining 500,” said Mohd Yusof.

Also, for one day in Ramadhan, MKM brings needy families of about 550 individuals, to a restaurant to break their fast with MKM members. During the last week of Ramadhan MKM distributes Hari Raya goodies to the needy families throughout Brunei.

MKM also hosts Khatam Al-Quran ceremonies and breaking of fast participated by committee members and about 200 individuals from the poor.

Its latest collaboration with dBookHaus, an indie bookshop at The Mall, customers can lend a helping hand by purchasing books for children of MKM clients. Ten per cent of the proceeds of the sales will be donated to MKM.

They also organise an annual ‘Back To School’ project. Mohd Yusof said, “Every year-end we assist children of needy families to make purchases in preparation to their start of the school year.”

MKM has also extended their work to ad hoc projects including transit housing and emergency assistance.

“There had been cases of those who found that they suddenly had no place to stay. These include those whose breadwinners died, became physically incapacitated or ran afoul of the law and are imprisoned.

“We provide temporary accommodation for them until permanent arrangements can be made.

“We also provide emergency food supplies to families who are affected and take care of the children by assisting in their school expenses,” said Mohd Yusof.

MKM also organises cleaning projects for accommodations of elderly or special needs people who are unable to clean their residence due to their incapacities.

MKM also assists victims of disasters such as fire and flooding, and provided assistance to fire victims in Limbang.

They also provide medical equipments, wheelchairs, adult diapers and food supplements to the needy in deserving cases.

Another ad hoc project is house repair, where MKM arranges for donors and contractors to assist needy families whose residence require repairs.

The organisation also conducts regular empowerment programmes for their clients including jewellery-making, agricultural business as well as talks on running small businesses.