Friday, April 11, 2008

The Khairi Who Doesn't Need Protection

For once, the much-hated and most-demonised 'K' word in Malaysia, has something to prove.

Handicapped Khairi achieves success despite the odds

Always tenacious despite his disability, Khairi started a fish cage-culture farming project eight years ago using his meagre capital.

Not only had the successful venture enabled him to support his aging parents and younger siblings, it had also attracted the attention of agencies which had offered to help him.

Yesterday, Khairi received a RM30,000 grant to expand his fish farm at a function here.

He was one of eight recipients of the Disabled People Entrepreneurship Assistance Scheme which was a joint-project by the Manpower Department and Disabled People Rehabilitation Association.

"It came as a pleasant surprise as I had never really asked for it," said Khairi.

Expressing his gratitude to the organisers of the scheme, Khairi said he would use half of the grant to increase the number of his fish cages from nine to 14 and spend the remainder for fish food and fry.

Khairi said that similar to other fish cage-culture fishermen, his venture also had its ups and downs, since his story was first highlighted by the New Straits Times two years ago.

"The biggest challenge was when my fish cages were damaged and more than 7,000 fry died during the major floods in December last year," he said.

Khairi, despite his disability, managed his fish cages mostly on his own. He used his savings to repair them and buy fresh fry of the tilapia variety.

"It is not that pride has got anything to do with it, but I always try to manage on my own because I don't want to be a burden to anyone."

Khairi, whose fish farm is located near his home at Kampung Tanjung Pulai on the bank of Sungai Pahang near Pekan sells his produce mainly to restaurant operators who make advance orders.

State executive coucillor in charge of welfare Datuk Maznah Mazlan, who handed out the grants, said more efforts would be made to encourage the disabled to venture into business.

She said elected representitives would be asked to identify budding entrepreneurs among the disabled so that they could be given similar grants to expand their business.

Those eligible may also apply for the assistance from the office of the district Welfare Departments.

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