Friday, 13 May 2011

They Eat When There Is Food

By Rachel Thien, The Brunei Times

2 May 2011 - "If there is food, then I will cook. If not, then everyone will take care of themselves," says a mother of nine children in Kg Lorong Tiga in Seria.

Four of 47-year-old Suryati Ayat's children, aged 7, 9, 15 and 17, are juveniles, as defined by the Children and Young Persons Order 2006. The order defines "juveniles" as people who are between 7 and 17 years old.

"I can endure the hunger pangs, but I worry for my children," the mother said, adding she was sad to see her young children hungry at times.

Eight of her children live with her in a two-bedroom unit in Kg Lorong Tiga. The Belait District Office relocated her family to this unit in October last year. Four, aged 19, 20, 21, and 22, are adults and unemployed.

"My eldest son is now married and has his own family," says Suryati. "Although he does not live with us, he provides us with food supplies when he can."

One more child, an 11-year-old girl, recently died of electrocution.

One of her daughters is now married to 41-year-old Alfian Junaidi. He has two toddlers and the wife is expecting her third child. They all live with Suryati in the two-bedroom affair. He is also unemployed.

When The Brunei Times paid a visit to the residence recently, the house smelled stale, like a closet that has not been opened for years. Two of Suryati's children were sleeping on a mattress on the floor. There were no bed sheets.

After one of her sons opened the door to let the party in, he sat himself down and continued watching television. None of his other siblings seemed curious to know why they had visitors over, and no one offered seats.

Suryati was not home, so one of her sons called her to come home from her friend's house.

When she arrived, she began to speak of their plight. She said although they do not have to pay rent, they had to pay for water and electricity. However, she said she has not paid any of the bills yet because they did not have the finances to do so.

"I have not been working for a long time, and have been divorced for 10 years now. I do not want to work because it is difficult for my two young children if I do as they will always look for me," she said.

She also said that being away from the workforce for a long time made it difficult for her to find a job.

Suryati said her family did not eat regularly, and hardly sat down to dine together because they barely cooked.

Their gas stove was not working, she said, and they did not want to use electricity to cook.

"We are scared it will take up electricity," she said.

"There are days when we do not have any food," she said.

Suryati said it was "distressful" living in such conditions, and would welcome anyone would would help them by providing financial aid and food supplies.

"Last time, we used to have help from the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), where they provided my family $1,080 a month, but we stopped receiving it last year," she said.

"I already applied for financial help from them again last year and I already went for the interview at the Religious Office here. I also applied to the Community Development Department (Japem) but have not been called for an interview yet," she added.

She said two of her children used to receive $60 a month from Japem for buying school supplies. They stopped receiving the money last October.

Suryati also said she needed money to support her two younger children, aged 7 and 9, at school.

"I also need money for them to buy food at their school canteen."

Her son-in-law Alfian said he is currently looking for a job. "I have already applied to Baitul Mal and we just received $365 from them last month."

Alfian said when they received the money, he immediately bought food supplies and powdered milk for his children.

"The money is not enough and I am thinking of my children, and that is why I am looking for a job now."

Meanwhile, Suryati's two sons, aged 15 and 22, said they dropped out of school years ago.

The Compulsory Education Order 2007, under the constitution of Brunei Darussalam (order Under Article 83(3) which has been enforced since November 27, 2007, provides a nine-year compulsory education for a child of compulsory age a child above the age of six and who has not yet attained the age of 15 with primary and lower secondary education in Brunei.

Sufrizan Sufri, Suryati's 15-year-old son, said he dropped out of school after completing Primary Six.

Asked whether he intended to go back to school, he said, "I want to go to technical or vocational school."

Currently, he said he spends his days "gallivanting and lazing around".

His brother, Sufrizal Sufri, 22, said he stopped school at Primary 4. "We had family problems so I stopped going to school. I also want to study at a Technical or Vocational School, but not at a normal school."

Asked whether he has ever worked before, he said, "Yes. I used to work at a restaurant in Bandar as a helper in 2009, but they did not pay me the full $300 every month so I decided to quit".

He added he recently applied for another job, but has not heard back since. "If I need money, I just ask from my mum," he said.

Social volunteer Walter Boyd, who heads a volunteer group, accompanied The Brunei Times during the visit, to see what he could do to help the family.

After gathering information, he said he would return and have a meeting with his group to see what kind of food supplies he could provide them with.

In February, the family suffered the loss of their 11-year-old sister, who passed away after being electrocuted on her way home from Pasarneka Seria.


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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom



Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife


My Soul Slippers

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Pretty All True

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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun


Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

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Raising Amelie

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