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Thursday October 3, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday October 3, 2013 MYT 2:40:52 PM
by vanes devindran
Ready to bake: Catherine (holding a cake mixer) with facilitator May Chang and her new friends at the baking class.
KUCHING: The scent of sweet vanilla essence lingering in a baking class she is attending gives Catherine Angai a short escape from the harsh reality of life in poverty.
With four little children to feed, the 29-year-old can hardly depend on the earning of her labourer husband who on a good day might just bring home a couple hundred of ringgit.
Unfortunately, his good days are very far in between, and in the interim, the family will just have to make do with whatever they can scavenge from the swamps at the city’s outskirts.
There, Catherine would look for wild ferns and siput (snails) for the family’s meal.
“I am actually from Sebuyau, Bintulu but came to the city in search of a better living. Now we reside at Kampung Kudei.
“Everyday is a struggle because my thoughts are always on my children and how am I going to ensure they succeed in life and break free from the situation we are currently in,” she said yesterday when met at the baking class organised by The Society for Kuching Urban Poor (Skup) under the 1Azam initiative.
Being in the baking class gives her new comfort and hope because she believes there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.
“Previously, I was among the group who would wait for Skup to come by with our free meals. Then one day Skup told me that they were going to carry out skills courses under the 1Azam programme and that I should join in. My husband and I were excited about this and we chose the baking class.
“I have never baked before but I just love the scent of vanilla essence and I believe once I learn how to bake, this new business will improve our livelihood,” she said.
Catherine said mingling with the other women attending the class and seeing how committed the government and Skup were at making the programme work, gave her motivation and hope that success was waiting for her and her new found friends.
Aside from the baking class, Skup is also holding a sewing class at its 1Azam Skills Community Centre at Unaco Building along Jalan Nanas Barat here.
The soft launching was done by Skup chairman Peter Wong, who was accompanied by the centre’s manager Bernadette Geikie, Skup secretary Colonel (Rtd) Fabian Wong and the volunteers.
Wong said the centre would run eight courses of baking and sewing to train some 400 urban poor women in the hope of freeing them from the poverty grip.
He said the centre was supported by the Welfare, Women and Family Development Ministry, the Kuching City North Commission as well as generous donors and sponsors.
“When we started three years ago, upon realising there were many poor in the city, we started helping by providing at least a good meal a day and assisting them to apply for welfare from the government.
“But now we are helping by teaching you how to ‘fish’ and this will permanently help you come out of poverty,” he said, adding the participants must be serious with their learning.
Wong said after the course, the programme would follow through by linking the participants with the market.
He said if they were enterprising enough, they could easily earn between RM1,000 and RM1,500 a month.
“Through the 1Azam you can see that the government is sincere and willing to help you but you too must put in the effort to learn to improve your lives and those of your children.”
The official launching of the centre will be done by Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah on a date yet to be fixed.
Wong later took the media on a tour around the centre which occupies four units for now.
The first two are for the baking and sewing classes while the other two act as a childcare room and a tuition room.
Fabian said Skup intended to rope in more volunteers who were qualified in teaching and other professional skills as tutors.
The 1Azam initiative is a form of productive welfare whereby the poor are equipped with skills in order to stand on their own two feet.
Tags / Keywords:
East Malaysia, Family & Community, SKUP
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