Fatimah Abdul Kadir, 76, is proof that neither age nor circumstances could hinder one from being enterprising.
The occupant of a senior citizen’s home has launched her own brand of bedak sejuk, a traditional face powder made using powdered rice. She is marketing her bedak sejuk under the brand name of Tok Timah Lawa.
The senior citizen fondly known as Tok, an occupant of the Rumah Cahaya senior citizen’s home in Kampung Sungai Tengas, Terap, in Kedah, is among the four who received assistance from the Kulim Social Welfare Department (JKM) to start their own businesses.
The other three recipients are making and selling traditional kuih and handicraft.
Recently, the department launched Fatimah’s product through the Gema Kasih@Terap District Community Programme at the Sungai Tengas City Hall in Kulim.
When met after the launch, Fatimah explained that her product recipe was handed down by her mother Che Chaq Taib who hailed from Bukit Mertajam, Penang.
“It is a traditional product using a recipe handed down for generations and with JKM’s help, I am able to make and sell it to the locals,” she said.
The spirited Fatimah says it takes her almost three months to make a batch of the powder, starting with soaking the rice in water and changing the water several times until the rice dissolves in the water.
To make 500 bottles of the powder, at least 5kg of rice is needed.
She also uses perfume like minyak athar (fragrant oil made from rose petals) and petals from fragrant flowers, including jasmine, to infuse fragrance into the powder.
“It is a tedious process but I like to do it,” she said adding that the other ladies at the home also provide a helping hand.
Fatimah is making the traditional powder not just to earn a small income. She wants to make sure the traditional powder will continue to be used by future generations. The powder is said to soothe skin rashes in children and adults, and help soften the skin.
Since she started her business, Fatimah has managed to sell 800 bottles of bedak sejuk within two months.
Kulim welfare officer Zarir Khozali said the recipients have no family and are cared for by the department which also provides them with monthly aid. In the case of Fatimah, she has no children of her own and had to fend for herself after she was divorced.
“Now aid has been approved for those who are keen to pursue a business to supplement their income through small businesses like selling traditional cakes. The products will be marketed by the department to the public,” he said.
Through the Launch Grant Assistance Scheme, Zarir added that each participant was allocated RM2,700 to create products such as bedak sejuk, dried agar-agar, kuih loyang and fruit jam.
“JKM will help market the products and the profits can be added to their income in addition to the RM300 monthly aid,” said Zarir.
If the products are well received, the department plans to continue the programme for eight more residents of the home.
“Besides making kuih and handicrafts, these senior citizens are welcome to carry out agricultural activities that will help improve their mental and physical health,” he added.
The programme, jointly organised by the Community and Senior Citizen Development Unit and Kulim JKM volunteers, is the first in its series. It is hoped that the programme will foster unity and better cooperation among senior citizens and the local community. – Bernama