01 June 2010

A Helping Hand

I read this on shar101 yesterday and it had been playing on my mind until I watched CNN and see that the oil spill is still unresolved.  To make matters worse, the attack on the flotilla dominates the blogosphere and news portals.  
Then I forgot about it until this evening.  
Please read what Monica wrote and see if, like me, you feel compelled to do something.  
I’ve seen 10-year-old Raj for months. He’s neat, clean, courteous, helpful and obedient. I must confess I favour him in my heart. Though I know I shouldn’t practice favoritism.
He’s ten and attends a Tamil medium school. Understands almost no English and very little Bahasa. Communicating with him comes with exaggerated hand gestures and facial expressions, as well as interpretations by his English speaking friend. Given that I only get to spend a couple of hours a week with them, getting to know each one better is challenging to say the least. One thing which I can definitely say though, is I feel much affection from them. And in this way, they actually give to me way more that I give to them.
Today, I had a little more time with Raj and to my utter amazement, he has ten other siblings! His eldest sister, 17 is already married to a 20-year old. They are both quite illiterate! In this day and age! No: 2 is 13 years old and all the way down to the 8-month old baby. Satu tahun, satu. The eldest 17-year-old looks so worn and if you ask me, she looks more haggard than her smiling from ear to ear 33 year old mother. A quick calculation will tell you that her mom had her when she herself was only 16. A mere child herself then. And now, the cycle repeats itself.
Raj’s parents, 33 and 38 years of age are both “tukang sapu di highway” and “potong pokok” respectively, living in Lembah Subang. Their family is just one of the many there who survive miraculously if you ask me. How do they feed a family of 13 on their meagre income? And yet, none of them are skinny or look undernourished to me. Thank God. Their eyes are bright, eager, expectant, joyful and full of life and hope. Except for the eldest, the 17-year-old. I see the light has all but dimmed. Are these the same eyes that I’ll be looking into in Raj’s eyes a few years from now? I don’t want to. Talking to him, his siblings and his parents today has so clutched at my heart. To do a little more.
I asked Raj’s mom if she’s taken steps to stop further pregnancies. She says, “Mahal lah”. I said, “Pergi HUKL lah. Murah mah.” She says. ” Tak ada duit. Satu ratus lebih….tapi ada ubat boleh makan….”, and gives me a wide grin. I want to cry. I cry.
Later, the Indonesian worker and I talk. And she says, “Mengapa dia orang tak fikir…. ada anak banyak-banyak, anak yang susah…..” I said, “Kita yang lebih mengetahui bisa berpikir begitu, tapi dia orang kurang mengetahui…..”
And therein lays the problem. They know not. They have not had their learning. They have not been taught. They have been deprived of that basic right to education. Education which is so important to the pursuit of knowledge that can break the shackles of ignorance, fear, dependency, helplessness. And not knowing better, they live according to their basal instincts, and who are we, how can we point a finger and fault them?
I notice the children from the families with fewer children – two or three – speak English and Bahasa as well as their mother tongue. Their parents had received at least lower secondary education. Their lives are better off. They have higher ambitions for their children. And very likely, these children will do better than their parents before them. So, education is still key.
But what of the many who are deprived? Where the ugly cycle repeats? And daily, this number is growing. Biologically as well as legacy of the race regime in this country. Meanwhile, the haves continue with their 1.5 children plan. I shudder when I imagine the overflowing poor, hungry, angry, disenfranchised striking back if things in the country continues on its present course.
DSAI et al talks about not having the space to address the rural marginalised. Label me naive or shallow, I don’t care. But it sounds to me to be such a very vacuous, stalling excuse.
Is it such a monumental obstacle?  Is it?
I am nonplussed. Absolutely.
Saya Tetap Anak Bangsa Malaysia
1.  Visit their website.
2.  Check their wish list
3.  Go for their Launch 
All I'm asking is for your small "change -RM1, RM5 or even RM10" and "making a difference" to those who really, really need it.

On their website, they say this
We cannot change the world but we can make a difference. 
Please help us to make a difference in their lives.

It's true, we cannot change the world.  We cannot do much but what little we can do, we should, without even thinking twice.
We can't do much about the oil spill. We can't do much about the senseless attack on the flotilla. But we can do this!

 Will you?


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Estrelita, real heartwarming post. And it is sad to learn the plight of people like mentioned.
I guess its politics and government that has failed its people.
Good of you to highlight these experiences. Lee.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Hi there, Lee

Would you like to help with RM10? :-)

Thanks for your visit and insight. Both are welcome.


Richard Loh said...

Thanks Lita for highlighting this website. There are so many poor Malaysians and yet the Government is not really doing anything. The Malaysian Indians suffer the most and yet the Government thinks only the Malays are poor and needed the NEP. Another sad case where the kids eat stone and treated it like chocolate. Sad, truly sad.

Another thank you, I discover the link within from your site. Looks cool.

Antares said...

Something Monica said felt a bit off. Why would she single out DSAI as an example of an uncaring all-talk politician when it's obvious that the nation's pursestrings are not under Pakatan Rakyat control? Is she hoping Mr Pink Lips will step up to the plate and drop a fat cheque in the post for Friends of Kapar? Nevertheless, what Monica and her friends are doing is indeed laudable. In the final analysis, poverty is really just the shadow side of extravagance, just as lack is born of greed. I was never sold on the Mother Teresa story - because she was, in truth, used by the Vatican as a poster girl to conceal its own hubristic role in keeping the social and economic hierarchy in place. Don't get me wrong, I shall definitely do my bit to help Friends of Kapar. It just annoys me when corporate fat cats work in cahoots with corrupt governments to enrich themselves by gorging vampire-like off the natural resources that once comfortably supported politically disempowered people like Raj and his family... or the Orang Ulu of Sarawak.

Pat said...

I can't explain it, but what Antares says strikes a chord with me. Something about that article just didn't sit right with me; and it was good to see that I was not 'alone' in feeling this way.

However, I do believe that Friends of Kapar are doing good work. And yes, it just takes our small change; something we won't miss, but it will make a difference to those who need it.

But I don't believe that just shoving RM20 in a poor person's face solves his problems. The issues are wayyy bigger than can be solved with a one-off donation - that works more to salve our minds, rather than to attend to his real needs.

There is a man who comes to my door regularly and asks for money for his children. He is lame, and is unable to work. I have given. One day, I decided that I'd give rice, and some powdered milk. I felt that would better reach his children. He's never come back again.

But this is a good start, and these are good people. I hope there will come a time when we don't need to see misery and poverty like this here in Malaysia.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Hello Richard,

It's not hard highlighting it on my blog. Those on the front lines are the ones that deserve the honor and recognition

I'm glad that some people had been touched by the poor families in Kapar and have begun to think of ways that they can help.

This is all I asked of everyone who visits this blog. Just to do whatever they can. Nothing is too small and even sending a prayer for them is worth something.


Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Antares, I think sometimes despair can lead us to just point our finger at whoever is most convenient at that moment. However, I cannot say for sure why she singled out Anwar.

I loved how Monica shared her thoughts about Raj. It struck something inside of me.

I don't suppose I will move mountains with my blog post but I see that I've already touched some hearts to do what they can. That is really all I ask.

About Mother Teresa, I guess she was a tool of the Vatican, in some way. However, her genuine good work cannot be denied. I guess that she did what she thought was best, despite and in spite of whatever she knew or felt about the Vatican. They seem to be swimming in money and yet preach about the poor and hungry. This is what I don't understand.

Thank you for whatever you are going to do. As you know, it only takes a small act of kindness to start a ripple effect.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

My dear Pat

I cannot say I understand exactly what you mean but I know you mean well.

I also know that those problems are wayyyyy beyond our control. Yet, helping a little must count for something.

It is more than just a salve for one's conscience. I want to change that. Even RM1 counts for something. If 500 people give RM1 each, that would be RM500 to buy food, books, clothes or shoes.

These are people who don't seem to have very much at all. Even a Fuji apple is a luxury for them.

I feel that we should give what we can. Even if it is just for "syok sendiri". It doesn't matter. That "syok sendiri" has resulted in making a difference.

This is all I wanted to share with my blog post.

As the friends of Kapar say We cannot change the world but we can make a difference. Please help us to make a difference in their lives.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

My dear David and Shashi,

Thank you for your generous donation. It's ten times more than I had expected.

Much love and hugs and kisses always


romerz said...

Thanks Estrelita for putting my blog link way up high on your blog list. I just noticed it today when I noticed that some of the visitors to my blog had been coming from your blog.

Thanks again and keep up the good fight!

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Hello Teik Lim

I have to confess that your blog link moves up when you update. I find it helpful as I know that the blogger had put up something new.

Before when I didn't know, I had to click each one to check. Now I know when there is something new because that blog link moves up the blog link.

Cheers! :)

HusseinAbdul Hamid said...

Hi...posted that on my blog..maaf did not ask for your OK...so do what you will with me! Salam.

STEEST said...


Aiyoh, no need to ask permission when doing a good deed, mah! A great big "THANK YOU" is in order. ;-)

Johan, Thanks for giving RM150.00

Chris, Thanks for giving RM100.00

Every little bit counts!! :-)