Family man at a loss as to how to be independent again

Family man at a loss as to how to be independent again
In dire straits: Amran (second from right), Rohainah and two of their children cleaning their stall in Temerloh, Pahang.

TEMERLOH, Malaysia - The murky and muddy waters may be receding after Malaysia's worst floods in recent history, but Amran Ramli and his family are still struggling to get back on their feet.

Amran, 55, used to earn between RM1,000 (S$375.96) and RM2,000 a month selling food but has not been in business for more than two weeks after Sungai Pahang overflowed its banks on Dec 25.

He, his wife Rohainah Ismail, 38, and their four children spent 10 days at a relief centre and have been surviving on aid - supplemented by his savings, now down to RM200 - since returning home.

"I lost most of my belongings. I have no way of earning any money at the moment and do not know who I can turn to for help," he said.

He seemed lost in thought for a while as he, Rohainah and their 14-year-old son Mohd Fakeh Idham washed some utensils that the floods did not carry away.

Amran's one-bedroom house and nearby restaurant are right next to the bank of Sungai Pahang at Kampung Bangau Parit, about 5km from Temerloh town.

The river is a dominant feature of life for the 169,000 people of this district, which is a 90-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur.

Amran used to sell breakfast and dinner at his stall, a small brick structure that he rents from the village committee.

To augment his income, he used a pushcart to sell steamboat dinners to residents and tourists on the other side of the river.

On the night of Dec 25, the water started to rise to what most villagers here said was the highest level since 1971.

"The river would overflow almost every year, but we never expected it to rise so high this time," said Rohainah.

Her main concern was the safety of her children, especially her youngest, one year-old Farisya Atiliana, whom Amran carried while wading through waist-deep water to the centre as his family trudged behind him.

At the Sekolah Sukan Temerloh relief centre, Amran and his family found more victims coming as the floods worsened and in the end, there were about 4,000 people crammed into the school.

Amran helped to prepare meals for the victims.

"The food got better from the fourth day when supplies started arriving, but the toughest part for me was having to share the limited number of toilets with 4,000 people," Amran said.

When they were allowed home on Wednesday, Amran went to his stall to find one-metre deep mud blanketing the floor of his stall, which had been fully submerged in water.

The roof, windows and doors were damaged along with a refrigerator, stoves and racks.

"The village committee owns the premises but they told me that it would be months before they can repair the damage.

"All I want is to be able to be independent again and look after my family," Amran said.

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