Monday, May 27

Silver lining on cloud of fire disasters

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Minister moved by volunteers helping victims of longhouse fires, says their help complements immediate govt aid   

Volunteers tend to items collected and to be distributed to victims of fire disasters.

KUCHING: The past week has seen longhouses in three areas destroyed by fire resulting in a few hundred people left homeless.

However, the dark cloud of these disasters has a silver lining as it has brought out the best from many ordinary people who rallied to lend a helping hand to the victims.

Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said yesterday she was impressed by the initiative taken by the people in her constituency Dalat who pooled their resources to collect and contribute daily essentials and urgent materials to fire victims at Sungai Asap Belaga as well as Rumah Umpang, Ulu Baoh Chelum in Tellian.

Apart from private individuals and those working in smaller groups, these contributors are volunteers from several village security and development committees, Church groups and other religious groups like the Buddhist association.

The minister was told that some volunteers took their own initiative to drive or travel a great distance from Dalat to Uma Bawang in Sungai Asap Belaga to deliver the assistance.

“Charities transcend boundaries. Collection notices through Whatsapp is still going on. The contributions are still coming in at the collection point housed at the old Dalat District office. Because of substantial amount of donation and also through consensus we decide to distribute also to fire victims at Rh Umpang, Ulu Baoh Chelum in Tellian but it is administratively under Dalat district,” Fatimah added.

She said the help from volunteers complemented the immediate assistance given by the government which come in the form financial aid of RM100 per victim, clothing valued at RM100 per person, food worth RM5O per person per week, sleeping accessories including mattress and pillow at RM100 per person, school uniform at RM200 per person and school going equipment at RM100 per person, kitchen utensils at RM700 per household and house building materials at RM5000 per household.

Money for house building materials will be disbursed only after the State Treasury had issued the cheque to the ministry.

The minister added that to address the frequency of such fires, the government through its various agencies is focusing on the causes of fire, preventive measures and post fire assistance.

The State Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) reported that on April 14, fire struck the 22-door Rumah Chandi, Sungai Tau in Selangau affecting 230 people and recorded a fatality and a major injury.

On April 15, fire destroyed the 42-door Uma Bawang, Sg Asap affecting 407 people with one suffering from burns.

On April 18, the 25-door Rumah Umpang, Ulu Baoh Chelum in Tellian caught fire leaving 161 people homeless.