A local NGO is calling for public donations to help build water wells providing clean water to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Majlis Kesejahteraan Masyarakat (known  by the acronym ‘MKM’ or by its English name, the Council on Social Welfare) has so far built more than 30 wells in the Balokhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“We have been hearing about the heart-wrenching problems faced by the Rohingyas in Myanmar on social media for a while now,” said MKM President Datin Paduka Hjh Intan Hj Mohd Kassim. “When the Rohingyas started fleeing and refugees camps were set up for them, many people who know us asked if we can be a conduit to assist the refugees.”

A young Rohingya boy looks as a man pumps water from a tube-well sponsored by Bruneian NGO, MKM, at the Balokhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: MKM

The U.N. human rights office said 500,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state since August 25, putting immense strain on the camps, where there are growing fears of a disease epidemic due to the lack of sanitation.

The Bangladehsi government has announced it will build one of the world’s biggest refugee camps to house the 800,000-plus Rohingya Muslims who have sought asylum from ethnic violence in Myanmar.

Datin Hjh Intan said that for the past two years, through a partnership with a Bangladeshi businessman, MKM has been involved in building tube-wells for the poor in Bangladesh. Installing wells in the refugee camps was a natural extension of the project, she added.

The NGO plans to build around 100 tube-wells in the Balokhali camp west of the border with Myanmar. The price of each tube-well depends on its depth, with the smallest one costing around $400.

“Through our associate, we realised that the Rohingya refugees are in dire need of water, food and sanitation … Giving them bottled water will quench their thirst temporarily but building tube-wells will be a more permanent solution to provide clean water to them,” Datin Intan said.

A former chair of the ASEAN Commission on Women and Children, she recently retired from the human rights body and said she now has more time to dedicate to the plight of the Rohingya.

“The humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya is immense. What we can do will be so little, but to do nothing is not an option.”

Liking and sharing what is uploaded onto FB does serve to create awareness of the problem. However our FB ‘likes’ will not fill the hunger of a single Rohingya refugee.

MKM will also be sponsoring food packs for refugees containing 10 kilos of rice; one litre of oil; two kilos of potatoes; one kilo of onions; one kilo of salt; and 100 grammes of chilli — which will last a family of four one week.

So far, the NGO has been able to raise funds for about 40 wells. In November, Datin Intan and her husband, Yusof Halim, will be travelling to Bangladesh at their own expense to purchase and distribute provisions in the refugee camps.

“We will be leaving Brunei on November 13 — all expenses for this trip is borne solely by us and all donations will be used for their intended purpose … After years of contributing the needy in Brunei, it has always been our vision to extend our activities to others in less fortune countries,” she said, explaining that MKM has implemented charity efforts in Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“MKM relies solely on donations … Over the years, the people of Brunei have not disappointed us and have supported us in our many charitable works,” the MKM  president added.

MKM is one of several Brunei NGOs working to provide humanitarian relief to Rohingya refugees. Last week, The Scoop reported on Hand2Handbn’s recent’s aid work in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps.

Brunei’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also expressed its willingness to work with the Myanmar government to find ways Brunei can provide humanitarian assistance.

A statement issued on September 14 read: “Brunei Darussalam is prepared to offer financial assistance to alleviate the situation of those affected.”

Myanmar’s defacto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, last Thursday announced plans to set up a civilian-led agency, with foreign assistance, to deliver aid and help resettle Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

In a speech the Nobel laureate said: “There has been a lot of criticisms against our country. We need to understand international opinion. However, just as no one can fully understand the situation of our country the way we do, no one can desire peace and development for our country more than us.”


How you can help

MKM invites those interested to be part of this effort to assist the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Donations can be made to the following account:

  • Bank: BIBD
  • Name: Majlis Kesejahteraan Masyarakat
  • Account No : 0001 5010 016 780

Please specify what you are donating for by stating your deposit as:

  1. “Rohingya Tubewell” – If you want to be part of the tube-well effort
  2. “Rohingya Provisions” – If you want to be part of providing food to the Rohingya refugees
  3. “MKM” – If you want to donate to MKM for our many charitable projects in Brunei

Please message any of the numbers below with the details of your deposit for MKM to issue you an official receipt:

  1. Datin Intan Kassim 8721403
  2. Zubaidah Dato Abu Zar 8983155
  3. Hamidah Lakem 8770312
  4. Zaiton Abu Salim 8738667
  5. Hjh Salbiah Yassin 8845458
  6. Mohd Yusof Halim 8754288