Maybank’s ‘Ramadan Relief’ reaches 1,600 Cambodian families

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Dato’ Johan Ariffin, chairman of Maybank Cambodia, speaks to the press on Sunday. KT/Jean-Francois Perigois

A total of RM225,000 ($57,000) in aid has been distributed this year in the form of aid packages to 1.600 families across Cambodia through Maybank’s Ramadan Relief programme, according to a bank representative.

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This is the first time Cambodia has been included in Maybank’s annual Ramadan Relief programme, and to mark the occasion aid was distributed to 290 families in Kandal province’s Chong Kos village, where hundreds of Cham Muslim families live under the poverty line.

Aid packages containing basic food items, such as rice, oil and noodles, were distributed by Maybank Cambodia’s implementing non-governmental organisation partner, Cambodia Care, in conjunction with Islamic Relief Malaysia (IRM).

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The initiative is part of Maybank’s corporate social responsibility programme. Maybank’s CSR programme began in Malaysia in 2013 and has since been expanded to include all Asean member states. It now covers some 14.000 underprivileged families across ten countries, accounting for RM2.2 million ($557.000) in aid this year alone.

Speaking at the commencement address of the Ramadan Relief programme on Sunday, the chairman of Maybank Cambodia, Dato’ Johan Ariffin, said that in addition to providing immediate aid to those who needed it the most, the programme aims to ‘humanise’ the face of financial services in Asia.

Cham Muslims from Chong Kos village in Kandal province. KT/Jean-Francois Perigois

“We hope that the little help that we are extending will bring about some relief to the beneficiaries of the programme in the coming blessed month of Ramadan,” he said. “This is our on-going commitment: to be at the heart of every community that we serve.”

According to Mr Ariffin, a more comprehensive solution is required as the provision of aid alone could create a vicious cycle of dependence with the potential of harming the community.

“The sustainability of the aid is also important, and we believe that the key lies in the the provision of basic education and entrepreneurship training to those who need it the most.

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“This is especially important for individuals in marginalised communities – women, for example, are often relegated to secondary roles despite the fact that they may comprise more than 50 percent of the workforce.”

Cham communities along the Mekong are facing increasing pressure with the ban on fishing along waterways that intersect the boundaries of metropolitan Phnom Penh. Their incomes have significantly declined as a result, as many Chams work as fishermen along the Mekong and the Tonle Sap rivers.

Since its inception in 2013, Maybank Group’s Ramadan Relief programme has distributed a total of RM5 million ($1.265 million) in aid to over 75.000 individuals across all 10 Asean member states.

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