KUALA LUMPUR: There are many pockets of poverty around Kuala Lumpur, such as in PPR Batu Muda in Sentul, where B40 families are trapped in a vicious cycle that has continued for generations, preventing them from improving their lives.
However, there is still hope for them in the form of the many charity and philanthropic organisations in the country.
One of them is the Pusat Bantuan Sentul, a community centre in Jalan Sentul here.
The centre is regarded as a haven for those in dire need of provisions, medical assistance, psychological counselling and emergencies.
Located within the PPR Batu Muda area, the centre holds tuition classes and meetings for residents in urgent need of help.
Its management board executive secretary and third-generation Sentul resident, Stephen Niles Lee, is disappointed that socio-economic issues faced by the poor and marginalised communities have not been addressed by the authorities.
“The families, who live in and around the People’s Housing Project flats and the Batu Muda area, are facing the same issues for the last 30 years, including poverty, homelessness, lack of opportunities for youths, drug-related issues and broken families,” he said.
“The environment itself is not conducive for the upliftment of their community.”
Lee said the centre was founded in 1987 by a group of individuals and headed by former member of parliament (Segambut and Wangsa Maju) Datuk Dr Tan Kee Kwong to help Sentul and Batu communities who were struggling with poverty-related issues.
Today, Tan remains an adviser to the communty centre.
However, the centre is run by a full-time coordinator Victoria Arulanthu, who is employed to handle the day-to-day running of both the office and the community centre at PPR Batu Muda.
“Since 2012, the centre has embarked on a partnership with Prudential Insurance at PPR Batu Muda, known as the ‘PRUKasih’ community social responsibility programme.
“Those registered are eligible for payouts in the event of hospitalisation, sickness or death of a breadwinner.
“It provides much-needed financial assistance to the B40 families,” said Arulanthu.
A PPR Batu Muda resident, single mother Devika Chandra, 44, works as a part-time cleaner while managing the needs of her two younger children aged 17 and 13.
Her elder son, Deepesh Bahadur Ganesh, is wheelchair-bound for the time being after suffering serious ankle injury just before his SPM examinations last year. He is now undergoing regular medical treatment for it.
Devika was not able to work during this time as she had to care for her son. However, through assistance from the centre and ‘PRUKasih,’ she was able to manage her finances.
Another resident, Lee Seo Tho, 62, has two grown-up children, a 19-year-old daughter and a 23-year-old son. The son is working while servicing his
higher education loan. Lee’s husband does not work as he has health issues.
The couple do not qualify to purchase a People’s Housing Project flat since both are aged over 60. To help them cope with the high cost of living, the centre gives them provisions every month.
Arulanthu said the centre had initiated a social enterprise “Mum Sew with Love” 10 years ago to ease the burden of families and teach mothers how to earn sustainable income.
“As long as the community needs help, the centre will remain and continue to be a haven for them.”