PUBLIC awareness on issues faced by impoverished families in Brunei has to be increased as a large number of the population remains oblivious to the struggles, hardships and difficulties experienced by the less fortunate.

Living in poverty: Hj Rakit Jakaria, who is visually impaired, lives alone, while his sister visits him at times at his house in Kg Tanah Jambu. (Photo: BT/Saifulizam)

Living in poverty: Hj Rakit Jakaria, who is visually impaired, lives alone, while his sister visits him at times at his house in Kg Tanah Jambu. (Photo: BT/Saifulizam)

Managing Director of Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd Hj Mahmud Hj Mohamed said that many Bruneians do not realise that there are many local families in need of assistance.

“About half of the Bruneians are rich, but they spend without a purpose,” he said during a charity project organised by Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd yesterday, aimed to lessen the burden of such families.

He explained that those in need of such assistance are usually old, living by themselves, who can no longer financially support themselves.

Others have to support five or more children with an average income of $200 to $300.

“They have other sources of income such as assistance from the Department of Community Development (JAPEM) and the Brunei Islamic Religious Council but this is not enough,” said Hj Mahmud.

Head of the Human Resources and Corporate Department of Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd Muhd Rasimoon Hj Adinin said that the public will usually provide support for charity campaigns for events happening outside of the country but have limited or no knowledge about how much help is needed locally.

“We see a lot of donations abroad but not Brunei,” he said.

He said that Brunei has a number of low income earners who do not know how to apply for help.

“Some find it troublesome to request for help even though they need it, they cannot be bothered. Others do not know what to do,” he said.

He added that they could only donate to 17 of the 200 families registered on the needy households list provided by JAPEM for this year’s charity project.

Assistant Managing Director of the Haj and Umrah travel operator Hjh Sufinah Hj Sahat said she hopes the charity project will serve to raise public awareness on their social responsibility to help the needy.

“To us… it is not about profit, it is about helping the less fortunate,” she said.

When asked if she felt Bruneians are doing enough to help families in poverty, Hjh Sufinah replied that she personally believes that they do.

“People do help out, but they do it behind the scenes as taught by Islam,” she said.

She hoped that more people, including non-government organisations, would come forward and help organise charity drives and events.

“People do not know how to get around to donating, so the relevant government authorities will also need to help channel them towards the right direction,” said the assistant managing director.

Held to mark the fasting month of Ramadhan and Hari Raya, the two-day Al Birri Wa Taqwa, (welfare and piety) charity project is targetted at 20 impoverished families in the Brunei-Muara District.

The contributions came in the form of basic necessities such as food and drinks, as well as allowances collected from not only the budget of the company but also from the staff and their families.

-The Brunei Times