Freshly painted walls and refurbished floors adorn the house that previously stood in disarray and worrying conditions. Following the story of financially challenged Nor Alam, the New Brunei Daily (NBD) paid her a second visit as part of their Project Amal Bakti outreach programme during the holy month of Ramadhan.
Nor Alam, 63 years old, came from a family of four siblings, where they once resided at her current home at Kampung Junjongan, giving the house a sentimental value despite the difficulties of maintaining it in proper conditions.
She has lived in a financially unstable state for years, tolerating daily challenges including familial disputes and everyday economical upkeep. As she has been mute since birth, her communication means are only limited to hand gestures, where she often mutters as an effort to talk to others.
Nor Alam lives with her only son, who she takes care of to the best of her abilities, despite her restrictions. With very little opportunity and capability to increase her financial means, she depends on the $250 from the government’s financial aid on a monthly basis. However, she only has access to $30 from the financial aid, as an unfortunate consequence of familial disputes.
During NBD’s first visit, we witnessed the troubled state of Nor Alam’s home that needed urgent assistance. As observed by NBD, the dire situation of the house caused several disruptions especially during unsettling weather conditions, as the zinc-covered ceilings were heavily damaged and the unsteady stairs could only handle a few more steps.
One of her relatives previously expressed his concerns for her safety and he wished that Nor Alam’s house was at least renovated in hopes to ensure her safety whilst carrying out daily activities in her own home.
Thankfully, in a short span of time after her story had reached concerned members of the public, and it led to the community’s involvement to reach out and prompt welfare aid campaigns.
Within the recent months, a significant change to Nor Alam’s living condition was a result of a generous contribution made by Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC).
Aini Asbinin, a representative from JPMC told NBD of their experience during the housing renovation, in order to lessen her endless burdens. With a team of 4 construction workers and 80 determined volunteers, the house renovation was completed in a period of 2 months.
In describing the challenges that came with renovating the house, Aini mentioned that one of the main difficulties they faced was “building the house as if from scratch because of the severe structure”.
One of the major renovations made by JPMC was the toilet. NBD previously noted that Nor Alam was left with no other choice but to opt for the nearest public toilet that is at least one kilometre of walking distance away, as the toilet at her home was previously inoperable.
Another development from the result of the renovation by JPMC was the flooring of the house. In Nor Alam’s previous living condition, she told NBD that she obtained minor injuries as a result of falling into the holes in the floor. With the new and sturdy wooden floors and plastic floor coverings, Nor Alam is able to go about her house safely and securely.
Although Nor Alam still uses a portable stove to cook meals for her and her son, she now cooks on a counter in her newly renovated kitchen, as opposed to cooking on the floor as she previously done before.
Additionally, JPMC also replaced the stairs into a more solid structure and fixed the ceiling as it was previously ruined. Hence, reducing hazards caused by rocky weather.
Moreover, JPMC and their team further improved Nor Alam’s home by providing proper electrical wiring and lighting, replacing the door and giving her a clothing line.
During NBD’s second visit to Nor Alam’s home in Ramadhan, we had the chance to meet with her brother as he came by in one of his usual visits. He expressed his gratitude towards the support from the community that has offered Nor Alam the opportunity to live in a safer home and contribute to her daily necessities.
Though Nor Alam’s living condition has been largely improved, her trials in other areas in life are far from over. Her brother told NBD of his concerns for Nor Alam’s well-being, especially as in the consequence of family conflicts.
Her brother shared that one of the unfavourable outcome of such conflicts is the continuous loss of Nor Alam’s commodities and necessities in the home as her son often sells them off for money. Amongst many of the shortcomings caused by familial friction, her brother expressed that the main concern is Nor Alam’s safety especially when he is away from her home.
NBD’s Amal Bakti project was aimed at aiding families involved, to assist them during the holy month and help them in Eid preparations. During NBD’s second visit to Nor Alam’s home, her brother voiced his excitement in bringing Nor Alam to visit nearby families to celebrate the festive season.
In the spirit of Eid festivities, her brother also expressed that he was eager to invite family members to celebrate Eid at Nor Alam’s newly renovated and furnished home as well.
As Muslims are approaching the third week of Eid Al-Fitr, it is important to remember that there are families and individuals in the community that are in constant need of assistance.
In the case of Nor Alam, it shows the grandeur significance in familial support and community assistance, to find solutions in tackling various hurdles, such as physical wellbeing, socioeconomic conditions, social welfare and others.
As said by Aini Asbinin from JPMC, “helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. We believe if there are more lending hands out there, we will achieve building happier society for everyone”.
New Brunei Daily