SIBU: A charity dinner recently raised RM5.7mil to meet a cost shortfall for the largest orphanage project in Sarawak at Kemuyang, 22km from here.
The generous contributions were from corporations, individuals and NGOs from across the state.
Guest-of-honour, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, announced that the Laila Taib Foundation, which was set up following the death of his wife Datuk Amar Laila Taib last April, would contribute RM500,000.
In his speech, Taib said it was good that there was another orphanage to see to the needs of less fortunate children.
“We cannot afford to leave them behind. They should enjoy the same benefits and opportunities as everyone else,” he told the 500 dinner guests while stressing the importance of balanced development.
Sarawak currently has two orphanages run by the Orphanage Welfare Board.
The Laila Taib Welfare Complex in Kuching houses 169 orphans while the Hamidah Welfare Complex in Miri is home to 80 children. They were established in 1993 and 2008 respectively.
Earlier, the Chief Minister performed a ground-breaking ceremony for the new orphanage that would shelter orphans in Sibu, Sarikei, Kapit and Mukah divisions in central Sarawak.
The RM12.3mil complex will care for children aged between seven and 17 years under the 1Malaysia concept. It will be built on 5.3ha donated by local Malay leader Datuk Temenggong Wan Hamid.
Sarawak Orphanage Welfare Board, chaired by Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman, who is Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs), has set aside RM7mil for the project.
Construction is expected to be completed in 15 months. It will be the largest orphanage in Sarawak and capable of accommodating 300 children.
Apart from separate dormitories for boys and girls, there will be classrooms, surau, dining hall, library, multipurpose hall, an administration block, staff quarters and recreational facilities.
This complex is part of plans to rejuvenate development in the area, which has the new township of Taman Desa Kemuyang.
The soon-to-be-completed Jalan Teku-Jalan Old Oya link will shorten the distance to Sibu town by 16km.
Kemuyang is also home to Sibu Golf Course, Kemuyang Youth Training Camp, SK Nanga Bon and Sacred Heart Seminary.
The local government has also allocated a budget for the construction of a mosque and library.
Other projects in the pipeline include the widening of the local river for events such as fishing contests and remote control boat racing.