Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Kampung Saya: The Blogger Who Doesn't Care
A few months ago, I got an idea to save the world. That idea involved getting myself RM2 million.
With RM2 million, I would have saved the world. Alas, that was not to be. Alas, poor Yorick. Blablabla.
So anyway, ONE of the things I wanted to do was to start businesses and industries so that the people in my village - most of them earning below RM1000, with quite a few earning less than RM400 a month - to augment their income.
My village, Kampung Bukit Kuin Satu, Kuantan, Pahang, has around 70 families. It was 63 back then, I think.
The people are what you would call unskilled labourers. They have very little - if any - education. Most used to tap rubber.
Here's how that works: on sunny days, they can go and tap rubber, still using the herring-bone technique. When it rains, they just stay at home and hope for I don't know what.
Some, fish for a living. This is seasonal, and sometimes, there are no fish. Gone are the days when you can place one end of the net at one side of the riverbank, and before you can set up at the other end, the net is already teeming with fish. That was in the 70s, when people ATE arowana for food.
Some fishermen have resorted to catching frogs and selling them to Chinese restaurants. They catch them , clean them, and sell them to restaurants.
There is a saw mill near my village. Used to employ people, but not so much nowadays.
The later generations - mine - may have better jobs. Some of them at least completed high school and work in offices.
Most, though, are still below poverty levels. The Badan Kebajikan Masyarakat can only do so much (they usually send biscuits and rice, sometimes), and churches that try to help do get the evil eye in the primarily Muslim community.
Big families, small income.
My neighbour has six kids. He makes RM400 a month. Plus his wife, that's RM50 per person, per month.
What do they eat? Well, lots and lots of sambal. Lots and lots of kuah. WIth rice. Some jungle veggies. Free-range chicken, yo! Hardly enough to nurture the young minds of his kids.
One dude I know has 14 kids. 14! Fuck education, man, what is he going to feed them? Sorry, what DID he feed them?
I hate when people use education as a be-all and end-all for everything. These people don't have access to nutrition, you think they're gonna care about books? Fuck you.
A lot still don't even have indoor toilets. They use outhouses. Fuck the Bernoulli Principle, these people need the basics, man!
There are many things that can be blamed. Political parties PUS and BN for using these folks as their whatever.
Religion for insinuating that birth-control is a sin. Yep, it's not just a Catholic thing.
Society, culture bla blabla. In a world where the true measure for a person's success is whether he or she gets married and have children. Fuck you.
Spite, envy, wrath, hate, the ego, Samy Vellu, whatever.
That's not the point. Am not doing this so that we can all judge them and their lifestyle choices. Not doing it so we can point and laugh.
Not trying to shame you, either.
Point all the fingers, dick and clit you want. I don't give a shit.
The point is, they need help. Yeah, yeah, everyone needs help. I need help, paying off my debts. Yadda yadda yadda. Boo fucking hoo. But we, at the very least, can afford to drink RM10 coffees. For these people, RM10 is a week's groceries.
The people in my village are fucking strong. Living a hard life all these years have gifted them with high upper-body strength. They're also quite fast, faster than a speeding cow. Able to leap tall molehills in a single bound. They are also very comfortable in the jungle and the swamp.
Fuck all that shit. Their greatest asset is their land, and it is being poorly utilised. We'll get back to that in a bit.
These people are also good with skills. Teach them shit, and they learn shit.
I am not ambitious. I foresee a few projects that can really help some of them.
1. The Papaya Project
One of the most delicious and easiest fruit to plant is papaya. Papayas grow on trees, for you city slickers.
There are male papaya trees and female papaya trees. Papaya trees grow best near drainage areas, as they require a lot of water and compost.
Since almost all families there have land, we need to get them to plant papaya trees.
I have spoken to the headman who succeeded my father. An ex-cop, he is ready and willing to start a papaya project, but this kind of thing is a chicken or egg problem.
To speak plainly, the villagers are quite dumb and are shortsighted. They will not plant anything unless there is a ready market to purchase their produce. In other words, unless someone has done it with a lorry coming in every few months and buying all the papaya for a tidy profit, these people would not move.
Malaysians are very cynical people. Even though some vote for political parties that promise them heaven and thousands of virgins.
So, we need buyers. Buyers, or a ready market for their produce, say, papayas, will not materialise until they see the things.
I count at least six hotels in Kuantan alone where these papayas (or any other produce) can be supplied to. That, plus countless restaurants and concession stands.
Also, a reliable distribution system.
Here's what we need:
1. Enough funds as seed money for the villagers. This will cover the planting of say, papayas, some amount for taking care of the things, and enough to purchase ALL the produce after it has ripened, before being re-sold to many outlets.
2. A reliable distribution system. Meaning, a lorry and a dedicated driver. Lorries can be rented, and the drivers can be hired seasonally. Throw in a bookeeper and we're all set.
3. This is the most important part. Negotiations must be held with potentiasl markets wayyyy before this project starts. The hotels and restaurants must agree to offloading all produce as soon as it is ready.
That's ONE project. We'll start small. I also have ideas for a cooperative sewing factory, a breakfast supply project, training for certain vehicles and many more. All wonderful ideas, if I may say so myself, but are harder to execute.
More examples: a charity grocery store cum food bank. The fish project.
If there is a promise to simply purchase the produce as soon as they are ready, then we're set.
Accompanying programs may include homestays. My village now offers homestays. For the uninitiated, basically, you just go there and experience the true kampung life. Most city slickers find this amusing. I was like, what? Nevermind. Homestays will give you an idea of the place and anyone interested can email me.
What the project needs
I have tons of ideas, but no time to execute or organise them. I need volunteers - preferrably rich people with nothing to do - to coordinate the projects. I have all the contacts. You just need to push some buttons on your phone and make those calls.
One day, we all go down to Kuantan, and you can see for yourself what your efforts have done.
Money, while necessary and vital to the projects, I'm not that worried about. There are various ways to raise money for these projects, but no one to do them.
I once raised RM20,000 for a project somewhere in Klang. We set up a computer room for some kids and a small library. It is not impossible. I've done it, when I was younger and had nothing better to do. I'm sure you could do more.
Let the buyer beware. If you do this, do not expect any form of thanks whatsoever. In fact, my biggest worry is that these projects would be sabotaged by the very people we would be trying to help. They are not poor - some of them - for no reason.
This project also do not focus on one person, but rather a community in need of help. Hence, there would be a lot of riff-raffs and motherfuckers along the way.
The timeline is long and huge. This thing may go on for many years, just to get it started. Some of you may drop from it along the way. I don't care. As long as it happens.
I am focusing only on my village because this is what I see. The people at my village are NOT the most pathetic in Malaysia. SOme are doing quite well. Others are not so fortunate. Helping the community will perhaps ease some of their pain, and they won't be complaining so much. I hate pain-worshippers, and the best way to kill them is to take away their pain.
If you see something in your village or hometown, start up your own project. I waited this long for two things:
1. Gathering of information. I needed information to start. Can't do anything unless you know the terrain.
2. I was waiting for better means to handle volunteers and accounts. Things are changing, and we can do more now than ever before. In a few months, this project and others like it will find a place somewhere. No longer will we be disorganised buffoons, but a credible, well-oiled machine.
So, the project needs volunteers. Not prima donnas, volunteers. Some individuals as a start, and then if we can rope in a foundation or two, maybe some corporate entities to dish out the moolah.
There are many other facets of the project which I will not share here. Those are for later.
For now, send your e-mail to email@example.com. I will respond when we have something more solid to work on.
Don't worry. I'm both very busy and laid-back, so this project will take its own sweet time.
Let poverty burn under the fires of industry!