Couple with six children skip meals every month when funds are low

(The Star) – An empty stomach is something Siti Nor Aisah Wagiman is familiar with when funds are low at the end of every month.

The 34-year-old mother of six said she and her husband would sometimes skip meals so their children would have enough to eat.

“This can go as long as two weeks whenever we do not have enough money to buy essentials like rice,” she said in an interview at Razak Mansion, Jalan Besi, where she lives in a one-bedroom flat.

Siti Nor Aisah, who works as a security guard, said she was the main breadwinner of the family and earned RM1,200 a month.

“The rent alone for our apartment is RM400 a month,” she said. “There is little left to buy food and necessities.”

She claimed that her husband suffered from haemorrhoids which made him unable to hold down a permanent job.

As Siti Nor Aisah has to be at work from 7am to 7pm, five of her children are being looked after by her mother-in-law while the eldest, a 14-year-old girl, is taken care of by her father.

“She is physically disabled. Her arms are deformed,” said Siti Nor Aisah. “When she was in primary school, she had monetary aid from the Welfare Department but this stopped for the past two years now. We don’t know why,” she said.

Mother-in-law Siti Rubiah Abdul Razak, 59, who lives nearby in another one-room unit, said her grandchildren would go around the neighbourhood collecting boxes, tins and bottles to be sold for money.

“They would pass me the money and ask me to buy vegetables for them,” she said, adding that they could get about RM3 to RM5 a day.

A neighbour, George Fernandez, who contacted The Star to highlight the family’s plight, said he sympathised with the family.

“They are so hungry that on certain days, the children would come to my house for food,” he said.