Saturday, September 01, 2007

Worlds Apart!

We arrive at our destination soon after Asr. Although I have read about this particular village, I had a minor shock at the scene greeting us. Within the village were not wooden houses or huts, but mere tents as a shelter made from any salvageable materials the residents could find, and erected on uneven land with a broken road running in the middle.

I love to watch documentaries. Sadly, I do not get much chance to do so as emak is not fluent in English. While subtitles are provided, they can sometime be too fast for the elderly who have to cringe their eyes to read. And though I try my best to translate, emak would inevitably doze off or gets turned off and grab something to read. It makes me feel guilty or robbing emak the little time she has for telly; thus I restrict the documentaries to only when she's away or asleep.

Although there were running water provided on a paid basis to the villagers, I did not see any signs of electricity and find it rather perplexing as high-tension pylon towers and cables run literally above.

The other day while she was busy sewing a dress, I managed to catch on "World's Apart!". I do not know about the rest of the series, but on this particular date, the producers transported an entire US family who are used to the trappings of their civilisation, to a remote village in Peru, South America. I did not manage to watch the show to the end, but from what I saw, the US family faced a culture shock and was close to tears at having to live several days without amenities they have back in the US. I quite like the show as I think it brings a new meaning to the US Peace Corps.

I have been to lots of places including Sabah, Indonesia, Thailand and The Philippines, but this is the first time I'm seeing such squalid living here on the peninsular.

Closer to home, yesterday on Merdeka Day, Kelab Kami Prihatin decided to visit some homes as part of our Merdeka Day celebration. 3 volunteers, yours truly included, left Dato' Keramat in 2 cars with some date fruits as a token of remembrance for the coming Ramadhan. When we arrived at our destination, 2 other volunteers were already there waiting for us.

Several of the volunteers in Kami Prihatin, had been on mercy mission to events such the Pakistan earthquake, Aceh Tsunami survivors, and many more. Even to them, the village was quite a shocking scene. Minor it may be to the calamities mentioned, but a shock none the less.

As the head of this visit, a Dr. L went to meet the head of the village who had come out to greet us, while the volunteers packed the dates - already packed in a plastic container - into bags meant for distribution. I, on the other hand, was wearing 2 hats - wtv8 and Kami Prihatin - was busy getting the camera adjusted for shoot.

I began shooting from afar to capture the actual condition of the village as well as the surrounding area, and slowly made close-up shots of several tents.

Soon, we made our way to the center of the village where Dr. L had a short meet with several head of families, informing them the intention of our visit. The villagers, especially the children, were happy with our visit as they felt they have been neglected by not only the society, but also the state and federal governments.

Several tents were using flimsy plywoods covered with canvass to give better protection against the wind, rain and sun. But they were look so shoddy and I don't think they'll stand as an element barrier, taking into consideration of the approaching rain season.

Dr L and party soon made their way to each tent, meeting the family members and distributing the bags of dates. In each tent visited, they were met with sad faces of men, women and older childern.

The younger children, those less than 12 years, were playing games made of crude materials; a plastic bottle filled with stone and meant for kicking and throwing, a broken branch acts as a substitute to a sword or a rifle. To them, life, is ever an adventure.

It was all too fast, too quick; we soon found ourselves back at our vehicles and ready to move on to the next village. But we were sad...I was close to tears, that this village, its people - our people - have to live this part of their lives in such a condition. As we bade farewell for this moment, we know we will try to come back with more volunteers and better gifts, insyAllah. For now, we have to make our way to 2 other villages.

Had I not known better, I would have thought this sordid living we have just witnessed, exist only in another state or another world. But it was not! The village exist in the heart of the Klang Valley in Ampang, bordering metropolitan Kuala Lumpur and the state of Selangor, the village of Kampung Berembang. For all intent and purposes, the authorites has turned this 40-year odd village into a world apart!


tokasid said...

Salam TO:

Kg Berembang? I thought your group went somewhere in Pahang interior.

How sad. Apparently, Kg berembang folks had been shunned by the govt. Was it because their plights were championed by the oppositions and NGOs?

Didn'y those who 'robbed' their lands had any moral obligation to provide them with temporay shelters.
Its sad esp when Merdeka was celebrated in a Mega scale. And Ramdhan is around the corner with "Eidul Fitr following it.

And all our leaders said we had done so much for the rakyat. Maybe they don't consider Kg Berembang folks as malaysians.

TQ for this entry. You made us remeber Kg Berembang again.

cakapaje said...

Salam Doctor, thank you for reading it.

As for your initial comment, that is precisely my point: an almost Neanderthal living condition in a city of the 21st century!

There's more to this story and others of the same plight which involves deceit and sleek corruption of the highest level in the state. I was about to start my 2nd entry for the day when I notice your comment, thank you again.

tokasid said...

Salam again:

This entry somehow disturbed me.
So I made a new entry and linked this piece as the main story. And linked a few more stories about the demolition and few photos, so others rememberth plight of these folks.

cakapaje said...

Salam again Doctor,

Thank you. I visited your latest entry: Pictures, truly paint more than words. Thank you again.