BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - A local man came home with greater humility and sense of humanity upon his return from handing over donations for Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.
On June 10, Hj Roslan Hj Mustafa, a former paramedic, and his nephew travelled to Malaysia, where some 30,000 Rohingya refugees are taking refuge under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The two returned to Brunei a week later.
"We have social media groups amongst families members and friends, where we agreed to contribute what we can to those in need," he said in an interview with The Brunei Times.
The contribution was only collected from family members and close friends. The donation was not open to the public.
The contribution comprised 14 cartons of baby formula, feeding bottles and women sanitary products. Hj Roslan said the items were specifically requested by Islamic Relief Malaysia (IRM) as they were in need of these items.
The cash donation was also used to buy food items.
"We used the money collected to purchase the essential items in shops in Kedah," he said.
The UN and world human rights groups consider the Rohingya the most vulnerable and persecuted community in the world. Millions of Rohingya refugees have fled to neighbouring countries following a crackdown by the Myanmar government.
Hj Roslan said after watching the news of the conditions and sufferings that the Rohingya Muslims had to endure, he could not stand idle and let it happen without doing anything.
"That is why I represented my family and close friends to contribute what we can. We collaborated with IRM to execute our mission, however our contribution was small if compared to the assistance that they need," he said.
Hj Roslan arrived in Selangor on June 12 and there he meet up with representatives from the IRM.
The group left for Kedah after Maghrib prayers and arrived at their hotel around 1am. Hj Roslan expressed his gratitude to IRM for providing him with the logistics throughout his stay in Kedah.
On June 14, they went to Belantik Immigration Depot in Kedah which housed the Rohingyas, to hand over the donations. He wanted to see for himself that the amanah (trust) entrusted to him by all the donors reached those who needed it.
"I did not get to meet them (the Rohingya) while at the Belantik Immigration Depot due to security reasons. I cannot imagine the challenges that they faced (to come here)," he said.
During his visit, Hj Roslan also had the opportunity to visit one of the schools set up especially for children of Rohingya refugees.
Ethnic Rohingya Committee of Arakan Malaysia (ERCAM) set up the Knowledge Garden Learning Centre in 2013 to enable the children to receive proper education.
The centre is situated at Seri Kembanga, Selangor Darul Ehsan and houses 110 students. They are given a formal education and learned Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mathematics and Science and Religious Studies.
The school has five full time teachers. The children come from areas such as Seri Kembangan, Serdang, Kajang and Cheras.
At the centre, Hj Roslan met with ERCAM's chairman, Mohd Rafiq Khairul Bashar who shared their financial struggles in supporting the centre and the children.
Hj Roslan said many more children could not afford to go to the centre due to distance and financial problems. At the centre, he took the opportunity to mingle with the children.
"They have five classes in one place. The youngest student is four years old and the oldest is 12 years old. The centre is also home to eight orphans. It is facing financial problems and relies on donation to sustain its daily operations."
After seeing for himself the condition of the centre, Hj Roslan raised the possibilities of future donation plans for the centre. He said it was a motivation for them to help and the support from his family and friends so far had been more than what he imagined.
In February, Hj Roslan also helped handover donations from families and friends for flood victims in Malaysia.