Needy Families Affected By Umrah Postponement

He emptied his savings account to fund his and his wife’s umrah pilgrimages at the end of the year.

The man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ahmad, 51, was very disappointed when he heard that his trip had to be postponed to March due to accommodation issues.

Mr Ahmad had engaged the services of Mr Suwandi Marchuke from Bil Hikmah Consultants LLP in April to arrange for his umrah pilgrimage as the consultant company had designed a package that catered to the less fortunate. (See report on right.)

Umrah is a minor pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and can be performed at any time of the year.

On Nov 7, more than a month before they were set to leave for Mecca, more than 200 pilgrims were gathered by Mr Suwandi at Hajjah Rahimabi mosque to be told the bad news.


Said Mr Ahmad, a father of four: “I’m only a despatch rider and my wife is a housewife. We scrimped to make ends meet and managed to save enough for the both of us to go.”

Mr Ahmad paid a registration fee of $300 for both of them and later paid the remaining $3,996 in full.

“We just hope that our refund will be processed as soon as possible,” he said, adding that he will be looking for another organiser.

The package that the Bil Hikmah consultant offered also allowed pilgrims to pay the amount in instalments.

That was the main reason Madam Salbiah Idris, 49, engaged its services to arrange for her and her husband’s pilgrimages end of this year.

“It was my first time going overseas, so I put my full trust on Suwandi. Especially since I saw that he successfully organised the pilgrimage last year,” said the mother of four.

The housewife said that the first sign of trouble was when Mr Suwandi called them together.

“It was close to the time when we were supposed to apply for our visas, but I felt something was wrong when Mr Suwandi told us not to bring our passports,” said Madam Salbiah.

When Mr Suwandi said that the trip was going to be postponed, she was initially afraid that she would lose the money she had deposited.

“It wasn’t easy saving up money. My eldest daughter, who is only 23, works full-time so she gives me money every month. I used that money to pay for the instalments,” said the mother of four.

Madam Salbiah paid a registration fee of $300 and then a sum of $3,996 for her and her husband.

“I’m not that angry about the situation. I understand that mistakes happen and I take it as a test from god,” she said.

Madam Salbiah said she will continue to trust Mr Suwandi.

“I’m willing to give him a chance and wait till March. I hope he can get everything sorted out by then,” she said.

I’m only a despatch rider and my wife is a housewife. We scrimped to make ends meet and managed to save enough for the both of us to go.

– Mr Ahmad, 51, who hopes for a refund soon



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