The gift that keeps on giving

Rizal Faisal

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

As Ramadhan is right around the corner, MKM has planned projects for the whole month.

MKM will be continuing its persungkaian distribution this year by providing food catered by Wafa Hotel and Apartment to 720 needy people for the breaking of fast for 15 days in Brunei-Muara District.

For the first time in the nine years it has provided sungkai food during Ramadhan, this year it will also be distributing to 100 needy people in Belait District, also for the same 15 days of Ramadhan, with WYWY Restaurant catering for Belait District.

“Our abled-clients will collect the food from our office or the caterers and be given petrol allowance, while the rest will be distributed by MKM’s Youth Wing and volunteers from Messrs Yusof Halim and Partners,” shared MKM President Mohd Yusof bin Shaik Abdul Halim.

MKM President Mohd Yusof bin Shaik Abdul Halim and other members with MKM School’s young students. PHOTO: BRUNEI COUNCIL ON SOCIAL WELFARE

Prior to the start of Ramadhan, MKM will be holding a talk for Ramadhan preparations, delivered by an invited Ustaz for about 250 needy people, attended by MKM members, to remind them of the benefits of fasting.

Meanwhile, for one day in Ramadhan, MKM will bring some 600 needy people for sungkai at Wafa Hotel and Apartment where cash donations will be presented to families and orphans. The costs of catering are borne by Messrs Yusof Halim and Partners.

A separate Khatam Al-Quran ceremony participated by MKM members with about 100 needy persons will be held where they will break their fast together.

“We will distribute food and cash donations to the needy residents and orphans of Kampong Menunggol. MKM members will also be breaking fast with around 150 needy residents of the village,” said the MKM president.

Near the end of Ramadhan, Hari Raya goodies will be distributed to about 100 families.

MKM is also in final preparations to launch a new programme to assist prison inmates. The programme named ‘Bimbingan Ke Pangkal Jalan’ is hoped to be launched in the month of Ramadhan where MKM will give Al-Quran and prayer mats to the inmates as well as stock the prison libraries with motivational and Islamic books.

Not forgetting their pledge to the Rohingya community in Bangladesh, MKM will continue with their programme of providing sungkai and sahur to 500 students of MKM-Gifting Humanity School and Orphanage at the Rohingya Refugee Camp in Unchiprang, Cox Bazar, Bangladesh this coming Ramadhan.

The MKM president also updated in the organisation’s assistance in Rohingya camps, such as building 12 mosques in the camps and in poor Bangladeshi villages.

“These mosques cost between BND6,000 to BND20,000 each, depending on the size and location. The price is for the land and building, solar lights, solar fans, solar PA systems and prayer mats.

“Mosques in the refugee camps cannot be fully concrete. Only concrete floors and two-foot concrete walls are allowed, with the rest made out of wood, bamboo or zinc,” he said. “However, we are no longer building mosques in Rohingya camps as they already have enough mosques, but we have extended building mosques to poor Bangladeshi villages.”

Since 2015, MKM has built 754 tubewells in Rohingya camps and Bangladeshi villages. “The earlier tube wells cost BND500 each but MKM has managed to bring the price down after the first 100 tubewells built, to BND400 each.

“The tubewell bore a pipe into the ground to a distant of at least 100 feet as recommended by the health authorities there. It uses a manual pump action to bring up the water and each tubewell serves around 100 to 200 people,” said Mohd Yusof, explaining on MKM’s Tubewell projects.

“We have also built a solar-powered tubewell, where the artisan water is about 500 feet deep. A solar-powered tubewell will have about 40 pipeheads and can serve around 3,000 people. This costs around BND12,000.”

MKM has also built six ablution places for mosques in poor Bangladeshi villages where there is no water supply for the congregants.

Since MKM first began to assist with the Rohingyan refugees in 2017, they have made five humanitarian mission trips.

Each humanitarian mission will organise and distribute food packs to about 12,000 families. Each food pack costs BND14 and can feed a family of four for 10 days.

The mission will also bring along 100 kilogrammes worth of sweets on each trip to be distributed among 4,500 children.

At the same time, MKM members in the mission will cook and distribute lunch to the refugees and through translators will hear and record the harrowing experiences of the refugees.

MKM is the first and only registered society in Brunei that continues to carry out humanitarian missions for the Rohingya including operating a school for refugees.

Mohd Yusof shared that MKM went for their fifth humanitarian mission in August 2019.

“We ran a Korban initiative for Aidiladha in 2019 and managed to slaughter more than 400 goats and 20 cows. The meat from these goats and cows were distributed to our students and other refugees,” he noted.

Some MKM members spent Aidiladha 2019 at the refugee camp to ensure that the slaughtering of the sacrificial animals was done correctly.

Upon return from their Aidil Adha project in 2019, MKM launched its ‘Adopt a Student’ programme. For BND50 a month, one can adopt a student and take care of all his or her needs.

Mohd Yusof said the ‘Adopt a Student’ programme requires a commitment of at least 12 months and sponsors will be informed and updated on the student being sponsored.

One hundred of the 500 students in the school are in the Tahfiz programme and the MKM School has produced seven Hafiz, since the school started in 2018.