Camaraderie among Felda settlers transcends race and religion

28 Aug 2022 11:22am
The Felda settlers said they are one family, if someone is affected by a disaster, others also grieve. - Bernama Photo
The Felda settlers said they are one family, if someone is affected by a disaster, others also grieve. - Bernama Photo
KUANTAN - Settlers at Felda Lepas Hilir 3, here, said they have become like brothers and sisters despite coming from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

According to M. Nagatewan, 64, he entered the land settlement scheme in search of a stable life for his family in 1988 and it was the best decision that he had ever made in his life, even though they were the minority among the 336 settlers.

His family was among the ten Indian families who made the move to participate in the scheme, which was dominated by Malays.

He said the early struggles of life in the settlement in a remote location where there were only red dirt roads, no electricity supply and where no one owned any types of vehicles had brought them closer together and made them care for each other, adding that the neighbours have become like family offering help whenever needed.

"One day my daughter was scalded by boiling water when I was out fishing for food and my neighbour acted fast by taking her to the clinic.

"The same thing happened when my mother-in-law passed away in our hometown at midnight. Our neighbour who drove us to Kuala Krau, Temerloh in his car and several days later he called us (while we were still in our hometown) to tell us that he would be fetching us home (to the settlement),” he said, adding that he could never find friends like his neighbours anywhere else.

"I have never once regretted entering the settlement scheme because I have met good people," the father of five told Bernama when met recently.

Nagatewan said his house would be full of guests during Deepavali where his family members would be busy from morning to night entertaining their neighbours, adding that his neighbours always look forward to savouring their homemade murukku.

".. it’s our turn during Aidilfitri to go from one house to another... and of course, we can't finish all the houses in one day. My friends know I like to eat lemang and chicken rendang, so they will prepare the dishes for us to eat until we are stuffed," he said.
Related Articles:

According to the village head, Rosli Samad, 59, the settlers also practised the ‘rewang’ culture in celebrating the wedding feasts of Nagatewan children of which they worked together to prepare Indian and Malay cuisine for the guests.

He said their relationship is as close as when they first joined the scheme decades ago, adding that with the advent of the ‘gadget’ era, they have set up a Whatsapp group to share information and news about their community.

"We are one family, if someone is affected by a disaster, others also grieve. Pinch the left thigh, the right thigh will hurt as well,” he said.

Rosli said they will always try to help each other out no matter what the condition is as they have experienced life struggles together since day one.

Echoing Rosli’s sentiments, S.Malika, 55, said her neighbours would ensure that she has everything that she needs after her husband, P.Sekar, 61 passed away last year.

According to Malika, her late husband was drawn to life in Felda for the camaraderie demonstrated by the community that led them to build a life there with their five children who have been raised in the community.

"When my husband died, all the neighbours came to pay their last respects. Even though we are of different religions, we respect each other. They also grieved the passing of my husband because of the memories that we have made together," she said.

S.Kannan, 39, who is a second-generation Felda settler said he looked forward to the public holidays in conjunction with the Hari Raya festive season to rekindle friendships and reminisce about old times with his childhood friends.

The father of three said his childhood was filled with fun activities such as fishing, swimming and bathing in the river and playing football after school.

"...the only issue is everyone knows your parents. So, when you played truant, the news would reach the parents in a split second even though they didn’t have a mobile phone at the time," he added. - BERNAMA

More Like This