BELAGA: The poor and hungry in the deep interior of Sarawak willingly share whatever food they can find with those who are even poorer and hungrier than they are in a heart-warming demonstration of comradeship and kindness even in the midst of sufferings.
During a week-long trip to the Lusong Laku, Long Tanyit and Long Liden Penan settlements located near the Sarawak-Kalimantan border last week, The Star found poverty-stricken Penans helping their fellow poor cope by sharing rice, wild bananas and jungle ferns.
The headmaster and teachers of SK Lusong Laku also allowed hungry Penans to share the food that the school had prepared for the pupils.
Early in the morning, Penan women and non-schooling children could be found waiting patiently outside the school kitchen for hand-outs.
They come from villages located along rivers that lead to the school.
When the school kitchen opens, the pupils are given biscuits and drinks and the leftovers handed out to the Penan women and children waiting outside the school.
One of the women, Ligun Aran, who stays about an hour away by foot from the school, said she would come to the school regularly with her son hoping for a handout because they did not have enough to eat at home.
“The school staff are kind. They always share their food with us,’’ she said.
Headmaster Dickson Juan declined to be interviewed except to say that the school tries to help the community in whatever way it can.
Lusong Laku Penan chief Jati Jarang said being kind to those in need had always been a custom among the Penans.
‘’Even if we do not have enough, we will still share so that everyone has something to eat,” he said.
He added that the reason why some settlements ran out of rice so quickly was because they willingly shared their stock with others in need.
The food shortage in the Penan areas has been resolved, for now at least, with 18,000kg of rice, noodles, sugar, salt, biscuit, milk powder and Milo sent to Lusong Laku, Long Tanyit, Long Lidem, Long Ajang and Long Abit.
The food aid was arranged by the Miri Catholic Church with donations from kind-hearted people nationwide.
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