Fisherman Muhamad Saipul Jamil no longer has to worry about bringing his four year old son with him out into the rough seas.
Previously, with his small sampan, the 34-year old would worry whenever there was strong winds, fearing for the safety of his child.
“My sons insists on following me every time I go out to sea. He loves the sea and is very interested in learning the trade.
“With this new sampan, not only has my earnings increased, I am more at peace as it is safer to bring my son out to sea,” said the fisherman from Bagan Pinang in Negeri Sembilan.
Three of his four children are still schooling while his wife does not work.
Life, he said, had been very difficult, with each day’s earrings barely enough to make ends meet.
Muhamad Saipul received a 23 foot fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) fishing boat and a trawl net worth RM9,000 after undergoing a training session conducted by the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB) and the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority.
Before enrolling in the Azam Tani programme, Muhamad Saipul used to earn a minimal income of about RM800 each month.
He now gets about RM2,500 each month, a more than three fold jump in income.
“As I was born here and grew up here in Bagan Pinang, there had never been any doubt in my mind that I would become a fisherman someday.
“It is the way of life here and I began fishing at the age of 10.
“Sadly, the low income I earned from this was barely enough to feed my wife and children,” he said.
Muhamad Saipul recalls getting caught by Indonesian authorities when he, with his friends went out to sea to catch “better grade” fish in 2006.
“They caught us, saying that we had gone into their territories.
“When we were caught, our GPS showed that we were still in Malaysian waters.
“I was jailed for three years in Indonesia and my family was left to fend for themselves.
“At that time, my relatives and friends helped my family a lot,” he said.
He was later released following negotiations between the Malaysian and Indonesian government.
He also cited times when he had floated at sea for nearly three days after he was stung by a stingray.
He was later rescued by his friends who found him floating in the sea.
“I have been through so much just to provide for my family.
“But I have never given up of fishing ass my source of income,” he said.
It was last year that he was selected to receive assistance through the Azam Tani programme.
“With the new boat, I can go further into the seas where there are more fish. I am also able to catch more crabs compared to when I was using the small boat.
The enterprising man has also started up a side business now, renting his boat to those who want to fish in the Port Dickson area.
“Although my income is still dependent on the weather, I am earning much more now and I can do so much more for my family,” he said.
“It used to break my heart whenever my children asked me to buy them things, especially toys as I could not afford it.
“I was also embarassed to keep borrowing money from my relatives and friends, but thankfully I am now able to stand on my own two feet,” he said.
The pilot project for the hugely successful 1AZAM programme was held in Iskandar Malaysia two years ago.
It was then implemented nationwide in stages, creating opportunities, raising income level and changing lives of Malaysians throughout the country.
The programme provides assistance in four essential areas; job placements (Azam Kerja), creating small business enterprises (Azam Niaga), creating small service providers (Azam Khidmat) and creating opportunities in agriculture (Azam Tani).
Azam Kerja is an initiative aimed at helping to secure job placements for poverty-stricken individuals who have little or no work experience while Azam Niaga helps its participants set up small businesses by providing training and micro-credit financing.
Participants of Azam Khidmat are exposed to the knowledge and skills required to start up small service-based businesses such as spa therapy or reflexology while Azam Tani creates opportunities through the provision of agricultural knowledge such as facilitating co-operative farming schemes, promoting cash crops and livestock farming.
The programme attempts to strike a balance between providing direct aid and economic opportunities to its participants to ensure that these individuals become financially self-sustaining.
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