The pocket of poverty that slips through the welfare system, villagers cry for help


Front view of Mazlan’s house.

The kitchen.

Monica’s pre-school teacher Fedelina shows her (Monica) last drawing.

SERIAN: At Kpg Paun Rimu Bakung about 80km from Kuching City, and one and half hours by car on a decent road, there lies a hut (about 30 km from here), which houses a family of six children and their parents.

It is hard for The Borneo Post team to believe the family of eight is living in such a place they call home – an empty living room, two other rooms and a small kitchen.

There is no toilet and they answer nature’s call in a small stream at the back of their house.

Sometimes, that’s also the place they take their bath and do their general cleaning.

Mazlan Puzan, the father of the late Monica, 6 and Jackson, 4, is a general worker while the mother is a housewife.

They did not have RM40 to allow them to seek medical treatment for their children after they were bitten by dogs, about end of April.

Monica was bitten by a dog on her heel while another dog bit Jackson’s face.

No medical treatment were sought after the bites because the family could not afford to send them to a clinic.

The little hut where they live is too run-down to be called a home, prompting the villagers and their relatives to appeal to The Borneo Post to highlight the issue to the relevant authorities to do something about their house.

“It is very sad to see poverty is still happening in our midst. So, we hope the relevant authorities especially our YBs to do something, like building them a decent home and a proper toilet,” Mazlan’s sister-in-law, Doria Agang told The Borneo Post at the former’s house yesterday.

“Since the late Monica was a cute girl, many villagers had wanted to adopt her.

“But now, she has gone forever. We will all miss her and her brother,” she said in between sobs.

When we reached the village, friends and relatives of the victims gathered to offer their condolences and sympathies while others were helping with the cooking and other chores.

A group of men were helping to cut solid pieces of belian wood for two crosses for their burial service which is expected to be held at the village tomorrow.

“We are a close-knit community so we will normally conduct a gotong-royong for villagers who suffer misfortunes like this,” said one of the men.

While the spirit of gotong-royong is still very much alive in the village, it is beyond their means to assist Mazlan to have a decent house.

Meanwhile, Doria said Serian MP Datuk Seri Richard Riot, who is also Minister of Human Resources, had visited the family when he came for a function at the village on Monday and offered some financial assistance.

Yesterday, he also sent his personal assistant to visit the family to offer his condolences and financial assistance for the funeral expenses of the two children.

Dayak Bidayuh National Organisation (DBNA) has also announced that it will start raising cash donation for the family.