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Published: Saturday December 28, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday December 28, 2013 MYT 7:49:48 AM

Funds needed to address social problems among urban poor

Green vegetables: Residents of PPR Kota Damansara are involved in a pilot  project called Subur to enable them to cut costs by growing their own vegetables

Green vegetables: Residents of PPR Kota Damansara are involved in a pilot project called Subur to enable them to cut costs by growing their own vegetables

THE spike in property prices and cost of living has made Petaling Jaya a place where the low-income group are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet.

Certain areas like the Desa Mentari flats in PJS2 alone have 20,000 residents living in a public housing project or PPR flats.

Areas such as Kota Damansara and Lembah Subang also have a large number of poor families.

These urban poor need help desperately and StarMetro has featured several outreach activities such as those conducted by Chan Li Jin, 43, at PPR Kota Damansara, Jalan Pekaka 8/7.

Chan, who is a writer by profession and lives in Rawang, has been visiting the community once a week to teach them gardening since November last year.

With several other volunteers, Chan started a gardening pilot project called Subur (Malay for fertile) at the PPR’s Block C.

Presently, 12 women from the PPR are involved in the project. Several are single mothers, widows and divorcees.

“The women here used to have a negative attitude towards life but are now happier and more focused,’’ she said.

Another individual who works closely with this community is Jeffrey Phang.

He is the chairman of Friends of Kota Damansara — an environment non-governmental organisation. With the help of a group of volunteers, they conduct English lessons for the children here on Sundays.

“Their living conditions are bad and they face problems such as poor rubbish collection and faulty lifts,” said Phang.

He added that MBPJ should allocate funds to address social problems faced by the community.

Similarly Prof Dr Fatimah Daud, 60, a sociology and anthropology lecturer from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), started a social clinic at the Desa Mentari flats in 2010.

The clinic offers free tuition for children, literacy classes and English lessons, legal advice, career guidance and organises religious and cultural activities.

Prof Fatimah realised the residents did not understand each other’s culture and were less tolerant of differences.

She believes the key to creating a happy community is through unity, more positive interactions and a clean living environment.

“I used my knowledge of clinical sociology to help this marginalised community,” said Prof Fatimah, adding that her aim was to improve their quality of life through assessment of the situation and intervention strategies to address the problems.

The social clinic also acts as a one-stop centre and is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Residents can also come here to get help to apply for government aid.

Children can also drop by to do their homework, attend free tuition classes or seek assistance from the volunteers. English lessons are also conducted.

Next on the agenda is to tackle crime within the community she said.

“Police catch the criminals but I want to prevent crime from happening. Addressing the psychological and social aspects of why crime takes place is important,” she said.

Prof Fatimah encourages the public to do what they can to help poor and marginalised communities in Malaysia.

“They can carry out ourtreach and educational activities for residents in places like Desa Mentari,’’ she said. Let’s hope more Malaysians will emulate these individuals.

Tags / Keywords: Community, Central Region, Government, Lifestyle, People, Food, Gardening, Family & Community, year ender

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