Reunion on the way for rescued teens

Unbreakable ties: Noor Cahayati (left) with her family and Eric (third from right) at the previous thanksgiving dinner she hosted in appreciation of Eric’s bravery.

KOTA KINABALU: Earlier this year during a leisurely outing with friends, mechanic Eric Perimus saved the lives of two teens who were drowning in a river in Sabah’s interior Sook district.

The boys were with their family at the Sungai Sinaron riverside recreational area, enjoying their dips in the water before things began to get out of hand.

Seeing a tragedy unfolding before his eyes, Eric instantly dove in and saved Muhammad Ashraf Ariel, 14, and Muhamad Ashran, 13.

Since that fateful day on March 3, a special bond has formed between 23-year-old Eric and the teenagers as well as their families despite them coming from different racial and religious backgrounds and living far apart.

Separated by time and distance, these two families could only keep in touch through the phone occasionally after they returned to their respective hometowns for work and school.

Eric lives in the Keningau town area while the boys’ family live in Nabawan, about 70km apart.

“It has been two months since that fateful incident in March and every day I thank God and Eric in my prayers because if it were not for them, my two sons might not be with me anymore,” said Ashraf and Ashran’s mother, Noor Cahayati Liman, 39.

She said after that incident, they had met up once for a thanksgiving meal.

Noor Cahayati already has another event planned for her family and Eric – a simple get-together at the end of this month in conjunction with the Kaamatan festivities and school holidays.

“I want to hold a simple makan-makan (gathering over food). I will be calling Eric and maybe his family over,” she said.

Noor Cahayati said it does not matter that they are of different racial and religious backgrounds, as such differences should not stop people from being kind to each other and befriending one another.

Eric said throughout all his years growing up in Sabah, he has never seen the need to consider anyone’s social, religious or racial background when he helps them or befriends them.

“I mean, we are all humans right? Why do we need to complicate everything when we can just be kind to everyone, be ourselves and enjoy our peace and harmony?” he asked.

Eric added that so much emphasis is being put on “bringing people together as a community” but little is placed on acknowledging that there is already a strong sense of togetherness within society.

“It is just that now, there seem to be attempts to break the bond, be it using religious or political ideologies.

“I think we should just enjoy this moment with fellow humans and not think about other things that can break us,” he said.

Heartwarming tales such as this are supported and encouraged by the “Maaf Zahir Batin Hari-Hari” campaign (#MZB365), which was launched on April 6.

The campaign stands strong with the support of major media organisations and civil society organisations.

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