In Penang, destitute family seeks help to rebuild home destroyed in a fire

Effandy Abd Rahim and his wife Salbilla Supriyadi with their daughter Nuur Zulaieca sitting in their makeshift bedroom in a storeroom after their old house caught fire here at Lorong Sempadan Dua, Ayer Itam, April 19, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Effandy Abd Rahim and his wife Salbilla Supriyadi with their daughter Nuur Zulaieca sitting in their makeshift bedroom in a storeroom after their old house caught fire here at Lorong Sempadan Dua, Ayer Itam, April 19, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, April 19 — An impoverished family of three here are seeking assistance to help them rebuild their home that was razed in a fire on April 6.

Effandy Abdul Rahim, 32, his wife, Salbilla Supriyadi and their two-year-old daughter, Nuur Zulaieca, have been living in a makeshift shack next to the ruins of their home for the past two weeks.

The family does not have access to electricity or water and have been relying on a helpful neighbour who allowed them to use a bathroom.

“Our home was on my grandmother’s land which was handed down for generations and I am the fifth generation to be living here,” he said.

He said a fire broke out at his house along Lorong Sempadan 2 in Air Itam when he and his family were at his sister’s flat nearby.

He said he saw smoke from his house but by the time he rushed back, it was razed to the ground and his family lost everything in it.

“All our documents, clothes, furniture, everything is gone,” he said.

He said the state government, the state welfare department and several state assemblymen have helped his family after the fire through various contributions.

His family was also offered a temporary flat unit in Taman Free School for two months.

“That was only a temporary solution, I can’t move there and leave my family’s land like this,” he said.

So, the family continued to live next to the ruins of their home in a storage space belonging to their neighbour, a furniture shop owner.

Effandy, who has heart problems and requires daily injections at the health clinic, said his neighbour allowed them to live in the storage space, a makeshift shack one storey up and is only accessible through a rickety ladder.

He said he must live near the health clinic to get his daily injections.

“We are only asking for help to rebuild our home, we are not asking for donations or a lot of money, we only want our own home so that we can celebrate Raya in safe surroundings,” he said.

Effandy Abd Rahim and his wife Salbilla Supriyadi are temporarily living in the neighbour’s storage space, a makeshift shack one storey up and is only accessible through a rickety ladder. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Effandy Abd Rahim and his wife Salbilla Supriyadi are temporarily living in the neighbour’s storage space, a makeshift shack one storey up and is only accessible through a rickety ladder. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

He said living in the shack was hazardous as it was difficult climbing up and down the ladder and the area was also infested with snakes and rats.

“We are always on the lookout for snakes to make sure they don’t crawl up to where we are living,” he said.

He also hoped the Penang Water Supply Corporation would let him apply for water supply to the shack for now as they need water.

“I went to ask about applying for water supply and they told me to bring documentation but I don’t have any, all my documents were destroyed in the fire,” he said.

Effandy previously sold fruits and vegetables he grew near his home for a living and barely makes RM1,000 each month to support his family.

After the fire, he said he resorted to collecting used items and selling these for some income.

Penang Hindu Association President P. Murugiah, who called a press conference to highlight the plight of the family today, said the family needed about RM30,000 to rebuild their home.

“They are not asking for anything else, they are only asking for water supply for now and for help to rebuild their home as they do not have the funds to rebuild,” he said.

PHA donated some food, milk powder, clothing and a table fan to the family today.

“We are also donating the RM1,000 to the family to start off their building fund to rebuild his house,” he said.

Those wishing to assist may email the PHA ([email protected]) for further information.

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