Program 1AZAM: Helping people help themselves
Serojah Libeg has been operating a small grocery shop at her father-in-law’s house in Kampong Bumbok, Batu Kitang for some time already.
As a housewife with four children ranging from the age of five to 14 years old and a husband working at a factory, she was motivated to open a burger stall at the end of October 2015 after attending the Financial Literacy and Motivation course from Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) which implemented Program 1 AZAM.
Program1 AZAM has been carried out nationwide since 2011 and in Sarawak, it comes under the purview of the Ministry of Welfare, Women, and Family Development with local authorities assisting in its implementation.
In 2014, MPP started Program 1 AZAM with 10 participants.
“I am glad of this opportunity as it helps me get additional income to support my family,” said Serojah.
With supplies of grocery items, stainless steel burger stall, freezer and equipment from the Council, she now operates both a grocery shop and burger stall.
According to Serojah, both have been doing well so far, with her sales amounting to about RM600 in the first month.
Also taking part in the programme was Ekon Kobok who now operates a grocery shop at her house full-time.
“I used to be a cleaner, but since I found out about this programme, I quit my job to run it full-time,” said Ekon.
Operating her kiosk daily since the end of October 2015, she has been earning around RM500 in sales since she opened in November 2015. She sees it as a good opportunity to support her family as her children, ranging from the age of 11 to 17 years old are still schooling and her husband who is a factory worker, is also taking care of his elderly parents at home.
Registering under eKasih, Serojah and Ekon are among the 12 participants of 12 poor families of the Program 1 AZAM (acronym for Akhiri Zaman Miskin, meaning ending poverty) living in the MPP area.
The programmes offered under Program 1 AZAM 2015 were AZAM Niaga (food kiosk) with seven participants, 1 AZAM Niaga (convenience store) with one participant and 1 AZAM Khidmat (mowing the grass) with four participants.
On December 17th, MPP Chairman Lo Khere Chiang together with some councillors handed over the last batch of grocery items for sale to Serojah and Ekon at Serojah’s trading place at Kampong Bumbok, Jalan Batu Kitang, Kuching.
With fund allocation of RM93,420 for the 12 families from the ministry to the council, each participant was allocated RM7,785 with their funds going to purchase machinery, equipment and stock for trading, sale and provision of service.
“We have a lot of plans to expand this, but it all depends on the Ministry at the end of the day. My only concern is that we do not have enough money. I am encouraging the ministry to ensure that MPP receive allocation so that we can continue to help our people,” said Lo.
“Myself and my councilors are very close to the public, we are the front liners, and I consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to help the public and those in need directly,” he added.
The participants were given financial literacy and self motivation training in August before starting their 1 AZAM trade or service in October 2015.
The 12 participants of Program 1 AZAM 2015 are monitored for progress over a period of six months by the council.
Crediting the program for helping to alleviate poverty among poor families, Lo hopes that the program could continue for as long as it can and urged other councils throughout the states to do the same.
While the program aims to help poor families earn extra income, the Council hopes that all 12 families do well in the Program 1 AZAM, earning additional sustainable income and alleviate their family out of poverty.
Families registered with eKasih can register for the Program 1 AZAM at the District Office, Kuching, the Siburan Sub District Office or the Council.