For Kelantan flood victims, home is where the hard life is

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The villagers hope that water and electricity supply will not be cut. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
The villagers hope that water and electricity supply will not be cut. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

GUA MUSANG, June 13 — Disillusioned by promises of new homes by Ramadan, villagers who are still living in tents have given up hope of celebrating Hari Raya joyfully.

Life in the tents is tough. They were previously told the weatherproof Shelterbox tents distributed by the National Security Council (NSC) would only last about six months with proper care.

Uncertain how much longer they have to live like this, the villagers are making arrangements to cater for the holy month on their own.

While they have access to clean water and electricity at the campsite, they say the tents have suffered wear and tear and no longer keep the rain out.

Single mother Mariam Mat Junoh, 35, said she could still put up with living in a tent but she constantly worried about the utilities being cut.

The campsite, next to a housing area with a supermarket nearby, has portable toilets and shower stalls.

“All I ask for right now is that we continue to have clean water and electricity,” she said.

The mother of two said she did not want to put all her eggs in one basket by depending solely on government aid.

She was among the more fortunate, as a relative lent her money to start a food stall by the roadside.

“I run the stall while my children are in school. If I don’t work, what will my children eat?” she said.

Others who have kept their jobs try to work around the limitations of living in a tent. Commuting to work has been difficult as their vehicles were damaged during the floods. Those who managed to salvage their cars and motorcycles help others out by pooling.

Handyman Mohd Thayib Mohd Sijar, 51, said he fixed his mud-filled car after the floods receded.

“Most of us just sit around wondering if the new homes will ever be built. For all we know, we could be living here forever,” he said.

“A group of us plans to break fast together on the field during Ramadan.

“If we still don’t have a place to call home by Raya, we will celebrate here together like a big family.”

Mohd Thayib said 45 families were still living in tents on private land in Bandar Utama here. The developers had halted commercial construction to allow flood victims to live there while their new homes were being built.

While the council has provided accommodation at the National Service training camp at Etnobotani Gua Musang, many chose to stay on the campsite at Bandar Baru, which they say gives them more freedom.

“Here we get to cook and we have more mobility if we want to go out even in the middle of the night,” Mohd Thayib said.

Hotel housekeeper Noor Azikin Mohd Nor, 40, adjusted her working schedule so that her children were supervised at the campsite.

“I send them to school at 7am and I start work at 7.30am. I finish by 1pm to fetch them back to the tent, where I cook for them and then make sure there are people watching them if I have to return to work or get groceries,” she said.



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