THE family of Hj Abeng Arif whose life struggles was featured in a report published by The Brunei Times recently, was overwhelmed with gratitude with the contribution received from the public who were touched by the family's plight.
The 67-year-old told The Brunei Times at his house in Kg Serambangun, Tutong, that the public's response was "unexpected".
"This is the first time that we have received help from complete strangers in this way. I can't express in words how overjoyed I feel," he shared. The public gave Hj Abeng over $380 cash along with boxfuls of daily necessities after learning about condition.
For the grandfather of two, his faith in humanity is restored. He believes the public's response is testament to the caring nature of society.
"I'm not used to seeing this much food at home, but Alhamdulillah. This is a blessing. I can't pay back the people for their help. I don't know how to. So, I can only pray that Allah (SWT) reward them in return for their kindness," he remarked.
His 82-year-old wife, Hjh Hasnah Ahmad, is at a loss for words. She touches the sackfuls of rice and canned goods with reverence.
When asked how the eldery couple intend to spend their money, Hj Abeng explained that the donation will go towards buying food and paying utility bills. "If there is some money left over, we will also make new clothes for Hari Raya this year," he said.
Among those whose hearts were moved by Hj Abeng's plight was a resident of Kg Kilanas, Brunei-Muara, who donated four boxes filled with food.
"I heard about the story in the paper from my sister. When I read about Hj Abeng and his family, I was taken by surprise, because I wasn't aware that there were less fortunate people in Brunei. I knew that I had to help," she said.
The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, recalled that she was unable to hold back her tears as she packed the boxes of food.
"It was a very emotional moment for us to know that the food will go to a family who is in need. Alhamdulillah," she said. The Kg Kilanas resident stated that awareness is crucial towards alleviating the plight of the poor in Brunei.
Bashirah Maidin, vice-president of UK-based student society Bruleeds, also shared similar sentiments.
In an email to The Brunei Times, the vice president commented that people need to be informed about the less fortunate through awareness, particularly in the mass media, in order to allow them to receive help.
Meanwhile, the story of Hj Abeng also touched the hearts of both Muslims and non-Muslims as well as Malays and non-Malays alike.
Mak Wan Yan of Kg Sengkarai, Tutong, who donated money to Hj Abeng, shared that she was moved by his story. "Although I'm not a Muslim but I do wish to contribute a little to this family especially during this holy month and Raya," she said.
The Brunei Times