08 June 2014

With a Sigh ( Part 21 ) – Are we all very poor?

 Nisa, my girl

A fortnight ago I received an sms message written in its normal lingo which took me a bit of time to decipher and understand. After some editing here goes the message:

Salaam Pakcik. Ini Nisa. Nisa hendak minta duit sedikit daripada Pakcik. Nisa kekurangan wang . Susah hendak beli buku. Nisa harap Pakcik boleh bantu Nisa. Keluarga Nisa pun susah. Sekarang hendak tanggung abang hendak masuk koleg. Adik sekolah SBP. Lagipun Nisa tidak dapat biasiswa. Tidak tahu siapa Nisa hendak minta tolong. Kalau boleh Nisa hendak minta pertolongan Pakcik. Bila Nisa berjaya dan dapat kerja Nisa akan bayar balik duit Pakcik. Nisa minta ampun maaf kalau ada buat salah dan silap dengan Pakcik. Maaf lah Nisa kerana buat muka tidak malu minta pinjam duit Pakcik. Maaf Nisa, Pakcik.” 

[ Salaam to Pakcik. This is Nisa. Nisa intend to ask for some money from Pakcik. Nisa am short of money; difficult to buy books. I hope Pakcik could assist Nisa. My family is poor. Now they have to support my elder brother who is joining a college. My younger sister is studying in an SBP ( full residential school).  Furthermore I do not have a scholarship. I do not know whom I can seek help from. If it is possible I would like to get Pakcik’s help. When Nisa succeed and have a job, Nisa will repay Pakcik’s money. Nusa seek forgiveness for whatever mistakes and wrongdoings towards Pakcik. Forgive Nisa, without shame, seek a loan from you. Forgive Nisa, Pakcik.]


That was a kind of SOS message from Nisa, a girl I began to know in early 2009 when she was one of 20 odd children in Std 6 of a primary school in a rural area about 20 km from my house. The school never had a good result in a UPSR examination, its standard 6 children failing to get satisfactory score in English and/or Mathematics. The school had just seen the arrival of a new deputy headmaster, a lady, who knew of Almanar tuition classes. One of her children was once a student there for three years. On her request Pakcik agreed to help the school. A concerted effort by class teachers resulted in a record-breaking UPSR examination results in which three children scored the elusive A grade in all subjects. 

As I expected, the three girls, coming from a rural school with average-to-poor background, were offered places in two MARA colleges. Unfortunately, Nisa was not one of them. She returned to live with her family about 70m km further away from me and joined a secondary school

Standard 6 - UPSR 2009

As a reflection of the general living standard of the parents in that area, I was greatly surprised when I came to learn that parents of the three successful children were about to turn down the offers. They were assured, no doubt, that their children’s needs would be funded by scholarship, but, initially, each child had to be adequately equipped and certain fees had to be paid on registration. Families of these children were not in the position to foot the initial expenditure. After all, a school nearer home was as good as a boarding school which they had no knowledge of. Fortunately, this was sadly related to me in good time, giving Almanar Trust the opportunity to come to their rescue.

As for Nisa, after completing her PMR examination she joined a vocational college where she is today. She stays in a hostel where she has to pay for food and lodging. The incentive for her and family is her likely opportunity to find employment immediately after completing her vocational course.

From the time Nisa left her primary school, she has not stopped being in touch with Pakcik, sending me occasional SMS to say hello.
Nisa has an elder brother who did well in his SPM (Form 5) examination, as a result of which he has been offered a scholarship to study at a new MARA college called KKTP ( Koleg Kemahiran Tinggi Mara – MARA higher vocational college ) in Kemaman. The four-year course at this college is designed to produce skilled candidates for the oil and gas industry around Kemaman/Kerteh. Like Nisa this brother has an eye on a fast track to study and get employed soonest possible. But life is not without problems for these people. Before joining the college in a couple of months’ time , his family have to find, by hook or by crook, a few hundred ringgits to enable him to buy all the necessities and to pay the registration fee on enrolment.

Nisa has a younger sister who did well at primary school, scoring A+ in all subjects. She was offered a scholarship to a an SBP (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh - full boarding school) not very far from their home. For reasons best known to the school, her bank account book(BSN a/c book)  is kept by the school. She would only get the book on certain dates when fees are due to be paid to the school, denying her from obtaining cash to spend on her personal needs, including her transport to and from her hostel. So she is not altogether one without being a burden to the family.

As soon as I received Nisa’s distress message I called her. It was hard for this young girl to disclose her need for a couple of hundred ringgits to pay for the school fees and her expenses to last this year.  She could not see how her parents would get hold of so much cash when they are facing the immediate need for the brother to be enrolled at KKTM.

Tolong lah saya, Pakcik. Saya akan cuba bayar balik pda Pakcik satu hari!” ( Please help me. I will try to pay you back one day!). She was not asking me to help her siblings, but just herself alone. She could not speak for her brother’s bigger problem.

Do I have to look for more needy case to extend help? That friendly tie she has kept with Pakcik over the years is reason enough. Willingly I credited into her bank account what she needed plus a little more. No sooner had she seen her account than her mother’s soft voice came over the line, almost in tears. She found it hard to believe what Nisa had unashamedly done. She poured out her untold worry over the family’s current predicament. The family’s bread earner is a small village carpenter, doing odd repair work in the village, at times going with nothing. The mother, out of need, does rubber tapping. “Kadang kadang saya dapat 7 ringgit sehari menorah getah. Apa nak buat?  Terima kasih Pakcik” ( Sometimes I get seven ringgits a day tapping rubber. What can I do? Thank you, Pakcik.)


Deep in my heart I wonder where the much publicised BR1M money been channeled to, and, above all, where are the highly honoured and respected YBs ? I can just heave a deep sigh, whilst these people are facing helplessness. Panda dihutan diberi susu kucing dirumah dicampak tepi pagar.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


ANIM said...

ramai anak murid seperti nisa di sekolah saya..
setakat ini kami, guru-guru hanya mampu membuat kutipan derma untuk bantuan di awal kemasukan ke SBP..

p/s terima kasih sudi drop komen di blog saya

Al-Manar said...


Ini kali pertama saya diberitahu tentang kutipan untuk kemasukan SBP. Kalau boleh saya ingin tahu secara lebih terperinci, juga suasana perkampongan sekolah ANIM.
Terima kasih.

Anonymous said...

Pak Cik,

My tears keep flowing while reading this post. I’m always emotional when talking about hardship in life. Having had similar experience during childhood (I lost my father at the age of 10), I could fully emphatise with her on such a matter. I could also emphatise with her parents for having to swallow their prides when they came to know of Nisa’s “effort” to overcome the problem at hand. What else could that poor, young girl do in the face of hardship surrounding her family. I would love to read more posts of this kind in your next postings. Thank you.

Idris Mamat

Anonymous said...

The fact that she sms you for help proof many things. That she knew pakcik wont let her down. That pakcik cares. I'm touched.

Al-Manar said...

Idris Mamat,

Many go through hard life, and that experience HARDENs them against giving away sympathy. You went through hard life but you turn sympathetic, not necessarily soft. I was raised during the colonial rule, even before the Japanese occupation. I would like to allow young readers to see and understand what life was like. But I have to do that in a very subtle way. What and how I write may be a reflection of my experience.

Thank you for your interest, my friend.

Al-Manar said...

Anonymous, dear.

You are a gentle person, drawn and prompted to leave those few gentle words. Of course, I wish I knew you. You might be one of Almanar's ex-pupils. You may identify yourself (by almanar@pd.jaring.my) if you care to do like a few others, and I can suitably thank you.

Anonymous said...

Pak Cik,

To add to your remark on BR1M money, I wud like to add the zakat money which is meant for the poor. Certainly Nisa is eligible to receive some kind of assistance from zakat fund. Of course we heard abt zakat money being channeled to ineligible parties. We also heard abt some quarters getting upset when someone brought the case of zakat money not being audited.

Idris Mamat

kaykuala said...

It is sad! One way out is for the authorities to know. She would have to be put under the knowledge of an elder to get connected to someone with authority. The problems can then be addressed by those who are meant to help with resources at their disposal. Individuals like Pakcik cannot be made to take the burden. Pakcik may chip in. Pakcik may want to help, that's fine! But individuals have limits. Hopefully she can be shown the way to get connected. It is a deserving case. Thanks for highlighting this episode.


Aziela said...

Pakcik, I agree with all Hank and En Idris Mamat's opinion. So, this girl is studying at school now? Doesn't the school's management has information on the students' background and financial status. Doesn't JPA or Ministry of Education could work on something to help this kind of talent? I keep on wondering. What is happening here in Malaysia?

Al-Manar said...

Idris Mamat,

Indeed there is money everywhere for needy people. I questioned the whereabout and the role of those highly respected and honourable YBs. THEY are the links between these people and the sources of funds. THEY are WAKIL, brought to their lofty posiitions to a large extense by these poor people. They are responsible, to my mind. In twenty years of my work I am yet to receive a visit by these lofty figures. What interest keep them so occupied, apart from shooting their mouths?

We are not poor, my friend. Those responsible to deliver hopes and cheers do not care for their responsibilites.

Al-Manar said...


You are right. As I said in my response to Idris above, the people responsible are in position, well salaried, but they choose to forget the very reason they are being voted to be there.

But as human we do not wait for the irresponsible to do their duty. We have to chip in because HE decrees that we give help, hence my motto, 'Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan ...

Thank you for your supportive view, my friend.

Al-Manar said...

Dear Aziela,

Your comments reflect your HR backgrounds. We cannot blame the various bodies having the means and funds to help these very people. The established link between these poor people to the source of help is broken by irresponsible attitude of those appointed to be responsible on the first instance. That is why I heave a sigh of despondency to think of the very people whose jod is to know what is happening.

Thank you for coming around, Aziela.

Ismail aka Pak Mail said...

Very sad and touched, Pakcik. I am sure there are a lot more like Nisa, facing financial difficulty in pursuing their studies. I pray may Allah ease this little girl and may Allah also reward you for what you have done a good deeds. Aamiiin....

sweetie said...

Kesian! inilah antara sebab dan punca kenapa ada diantara anak-anak bangsa kita tidak dapat meneruskan pelajaran ke peringkat yang lebih jauh. Bukan tidak pandai tetapi keperitan hidup.

Al-Manar said...


The situation of this nature is not uncommon but what is sad to realise is that the sources of fund are available but there is a breakdown in the established mechanism to bring the cases to the fore. We can write about this and get all the sympathy. One or two cases may get sufficient sympathy to be resolved. Bit what about the so many other cases? Where are the people who are paid to do the job of bringing the cases to the group awaiting to offer help?

Thank you for your benevolent thought and prayers, amiin.

Al-Manar said...


Betul, ramai yang mempunyai bakat ketinggalan. Puan bernasib baik mempunyai anak yang berkebolehan. Saya terasa iri hati bila melihat anak buah saya di Almanar yang berbakat, tetapi saya tahu terhadnya peluang mereka dalam mendaki kemajuan dalam pelajaran. Cuma saya berharap dengan apa yang mampu kita tolong mereka akan maju, kalau tidak sekarang, dimasa hadapan. Ramai yang mula bergerak maju kemudian dari rakan rakan sebaya. Tuhan memberi peluang kepada semua. Kita mesti memain peranan kita.

Saya harap anak anak sweetie akan berjaya, terutama yang menuju ke PhD.

madame blossom said...

Allah is the best to reward you with the best.