Helping hand for family affected by MCO

Farid (centre) and his family receiving a supply of fresh vegetables from Shanmugadass (right) at the squatter house in Jalan Lumba Kuda, Bukit Chagar, Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: Living in a squatter house and eating donated food has been the “new norm” for a family of four in Jalan Lumba Kuda, Bukit Chagar after they were evicted from their rented room for failing to pay rent.

The head of the household, Mohamad Farid Ibrahim, 34, who lost his job due to the Covid-19 outbreak, was previously working odd jobs and earned an income of at least RM60 a week.

He was unable to go to work after the movement control order (MCO) was imposed and was unable to pay his RM500 room rent.

The family then moved into a squatter home that was left by foreign workers who used to live near a construction site, right next to a Chinese temple.

According to Farid, his life now depends entirely on donations given by his neighbour, D. Babu Rajamohan, 53, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who have reached out to help him.

“I previously had savings of RM1,000 but that was spent for our daily necessities during the MCO. Now we depend on food donated by our neighbour and NGOs,” he said.

Farid, who lives with his wife, Siti Zaleha Ismail, 37, and two children Nur Aini Sofea Mohd Azri, 16, and Mohd Sazwan Imran Mohd Azri, nine, said he was thankful for the kindness shown to him.

“Before, I used to work as a grass cutter, mechanic and building painter besides taking on other jobs depending on what was available.

“However, since the MCO started on March 18, I have not been able to do anything to fend for my family and that is where Babu came and offered to help us by providing food supplies,” he said, adding that his neighbour still helped him even though his own family was also facing difficult times.

Meanwhile, Babu Rajamohan recalled the day he met Mohamad Farid, saying he was shocked to see people living in the squatter house that had long been abandoned.

“At first I heard the sound of sweeping leaves so I went to investigate and found Farid and his family cleaning up the dilapidated house.

“It is not suitable for a family to live in, as the roof is flimsy and can easily be blown away during a storm. The surrounding area is also infested with snakes,” he said, adding that all he could do was help repair the house and provide food for the family.

Babu Rajamohan alerted the Global Hindu Federation Johor branch president Caren Thavanantheny and vice-president T. Shanmugadass who had been doing what they could to help the family.

According to Caren, the NGO has contacted multiple agencies, assemblymen and the state government regarding the family’s fate but has yet to receive a response.

“Our main focus now is to relocate the family from this squatter house because it is unhygienic and poses a danger to their lives.

“We have approached many for help and are hoping that some private company or individual out there will step forward to aid farid and his family,” she said.

“Now that the MCO has been relaxed and most sectors can resume operations, hopefully, Farid will be able to earn a living once more,” she added.

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