VITAL BOOST:Juita president Professor Datin Paduka Dr Jamilah Ariffin and members present gifts, cash and encouraging words to the Orang Asli Seletar community
SEVENTY representatives of families in the indigenous community living in the Simpang Arang, Bakar Batu and Sungai Temon villages began making their way to the event hosted by Juita (Badan Amal Tenaga Isteri Wakil-wakil Rakyat Negeri Johor) early in the morning of July 14, 2012.
Among them were fishermen, retirees and homemakers who were eager to meet Professor Datin Paduka Dr Jamilah Ariffin, Juita's president and wife of Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.
She initiated the 14th Juita-ku Sayang project, launched on Dec 19, 2011, to support the development of indigenous people, particularly the Orang Seletar of Johor.
Jamilah recognises that the indigenous people are the original settlers in Iskandar Malaysia and is keen to help them upgrade themselves and ensure that they benefit from the development by way of a better quality of life.
Juita is a non-governmental organisation actively involved in Johor's multi-racial community, and conducts welfare projects for women and children.
In line with the Johor State Government's aim of creating a caring community through holistic development, Juita has implemented 14 welfare projects in the state since 1995 to help needy single mothers and children under the concept of "smart partnerships" in cooperation with State Departments, NGOs and the private sector.
With the rapid development of Iskandar Malaysia, Juita is looking into the social and welfare needs of the indigenous community living in the Simpang Arang, Bakar Batu and Sungai Temon villages so they can progress in tandem with development.
In addition to a RM100 cash gift for each household, Juita provided a gift package that included personal essential items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, food and clothes, to encourage the 70 families to adopt better hygiene and eating habits.
Jamilah encouraged them to maintain cleanliness in their homes and the common areas around their villages.
Juita presented these gift packages to the indigenous community as part of the programmes which were part of Juita's 17th annual general meeting.
The community was also given the annual gift from MyKasih Foundation which allowed its members to shop for home essentials at Giant Hypermarket Tampoi and pay electronically with their MyKad. Jamilah was pleased that 50 out of the 70 needy families were taking advantage of this convenience now.
Thirty representatives of women's NGOs and wives of District Officers were also at the event to receive a copy each of the Bahasa Melayu version of Readings on Women and Development in Malaysia -- A sequel tracing four decades of change.
This book is a compilation of findings in a project initiated and coordinated by Jamilah. The contents include topics like women's roles in the economy, education, immigration and in volunteer organisations, with analyses and findings on matters related to women.
Also covered in the book are the demographic status in marriage, childbirth and rural women in an era of change from agricultural to industrial sectors.
Jamilah hoped the book would be a useful guide for women involved in development and asked the wives of district officers to make it available to the public, with copies placed in the respective district libraries.
On the subject of leadership, Jamilah said: "We are all leaders in our own communities" as she encouraged the women to set forth their goals and aim to achieve them with excellence.
She quoted David McNally, who said: "Nothing great will be achieved without enthusiasm," and listed qualities like self-confidence, clear objectives, commitment and a heart for social concern that would be necessary for completing any job or project well.
Borrowing an English riddle, "Why is the Dead Sea, dead?", Jamilah challenged the people to use their resources to contribute to the benefit of the community or risk remaining stagnant and "dead".
Also present at the event were Normah Ekhsan, wife of Johor State Secretary Datuk Obet Tawil; M Suites Hotel executive director Datin Dr Maimunah Abdul Rahman; Johor Family Development Foundation chief executive Salehuddin Hassan; MyKasih Foundation representative Masyitah Mawi, and others from government agencies.