Learning life skills to stand on their own

Rokiah Mahmud

The Asnaf Zakat Empowerment Programme (PROPAZ) has been continuously proactive in diversifying its initiatives, especially in raising the standard living of the poor and destitute (fakir miskin).

One of the many ways is the programme does this is by providing training and life skills so that aside from gaining knowledge, they also obtain skills which can later facilitate their ability to generate income for their families.

The skills training is also meant to bring these Asnaf Zakat recipients to get out of their poverty cocoon, change their way and standard of living while at the same time aim to provide the recipients with a more comfortable life and the ability to be more independent without depending heavily on their monthly financial assistance.

The training which has been carried out by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) in collaboration with Institut Kemahiran Baitulmal of the Majlis Wilayah Persekutuan (MAIWP), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is one of the many PROPAZ programmes that could meet the PROPAZ objectives.

The skills training programme was the result of the 43rd Senior Officers Meeting for Religious Ministers of Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore (MABIMS) Unofficial Meeting in 2018.

ABOVE & BELOW: Acting Secretary of MUIB Haji Abdul Aziz bin Haji Akop; Mohamad Zulhilmi bin Ajak; and Muhammad Nur Hazwan Syafiee bin Razimi during the interview. PHOTOS: RAHWANI ZAHARI

Mohamad Zulhilmi bin Ajak and Muhammad Nur Hazwan Syafiee bin Razimi in a group photo with other participants.

Following this, MAIWP has offered a number of programmes at the institute that are open for Asnaf Zakat recipients from MABIMS member countries.

For Brunei Darussalam, the country’s third batch of selected Asnaf Zakat recipients was recently sent to undergo training and courses at the institutes.

The first batch was in 2018 followed with second batch in 2019.

Among the courses they have taken include the Arts and Design Course; Building Architecture and Technology; and Food Services and Catering.

The Bulletin interviewed two of the participants who successfully completed their training course at the institute.

One of them was Mohamad Zulhilmi bin Ajak, completed his training in Food Services and Catering.

Zulhilmi shared the programme has benefitted him greatly as he has been exposed to and learnt a lot of things about culinary, food services and catering.

During his 24 months at the institute, he had the opportunity to learn various types of culinary skills, including Malay and Chinese cooking, techniques as well as nutritions.

“Under the PROPAZ programme, we have been provided with monthly allowances that derived from the Zakat (tithe) fund. At the same time, MAIWP also provided us with accommodations and educational aids along with food and beverages.”

“I would like to extend my sincerely thankful and gratitude for MUIB and especially PROPAZ programme who has helped me a lot in developing myself in this training,” he said.

“Not only did we learn various types of cooking, but we were also taught business marketing so that if any of us has the intention to set up or own business, at least we already have basic experience.”

Speaking on his future plans, he said, “For now, I will pursue my study at the institute for Level II training this year. I put so much hope that I could succeed in this field as I have plans to earn income and provide a better life for my family or at least have a stable income.”

“After completing my Level II, I plan to gain experience by working, understand the catering and food services market and at the same time learn about business strategy. Then, after I have confidence in myself, hopefully one day I could set up my own catering business,” he added.

Another participant was Muhammad Nur Hazwan Syafiee bin Razimi who completed his training skills in Building Architecture and Technology.

Speaking on his experience during his training in Kuala Lumpur, he explained that aside from theory, they were also placed for six months’ practical training outside the institute. For now, he has tried to utilise his skills by renovating his parents’ house.

“I built up the courage to renovate our house from three bedrooms to 10 bedrooms which could accommodate my parents and siblings,” he said. “Insya Allah with the skills that I have attained during the course, I plan to venture into my own business with MUIB’s assistance.”

“My family also encouraged me to offer services to others, as there are not many locals venturing into this field,” he added.

Meanwhile, Acting Secretary of MUIB Haji Abdul Aziz bin Haji Akop shared the latest developments about the PROPAZ programme.

Alhamdulillah we successfully sent six participants under the PROPAZ programme and for the third batch we are selecting female participants,” he explained. “Insya Allah we will continuously send our Asnaf Zakat recipients to undergo skills training at the institute. We take the opportunity as a means to assist the needy, especially the Asnaf Zakat recipients to get out of their poverty cocoon.”

“MAIWP also offers programmes in other countries such as Singapore and Indonesia as this collaboration resulted from the 43rd SOM MABIMS meeting. Once they complete their course from the institute, MUIB will readily provide assistance they need. We will discuss what their next plan is, either they want to open up their own business or apply for a job to gain experience,” he added.

On how the participants were selected for the programme, the Acting Secretary of MUIB explained that they have a list of the Asnaf Zakat recipients following several programmes such as PROPAZ-PPB (Youth Development Centre); PROPAZ-PERANTIS; PROPAZ –ZIRA’AH.

“Most of the selected participants are from the PROPAZ–PPB so they could further their studies abroad,” he said. “The secretariat also looked into several criteria before selecting the participants. The programme will be continuously carried out as part of the country’s vision to reduce poverty in the country,” he added.