KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29, 2016:
Mohammad Jaafar, 46, could barely hold his tears as he spoke of his family’s poverty.
A single parent of six children, including two adopted kids whose biological father was a hardcore drug addict, life gets harder by the day for Mohamad.
The rising living cost has hit him hard as he struggles to feed the kids, aged six to 15, with RM600 a month as a roti canai maker.
It has been even more difficult as he has been facing it all alone since his spouse passed away in April last year following an illness.
He conceded that facing the situation on his own could be quite overwhelming and although fraught with difficulties, the grieving had been cushioned by his supportive children.
Mohammad said they never complained despite the constant hunger and the stress that came from watching their father struggle.
“The kids have problems getting enough to eat. Sometimes, I can only give them 20 sen to take to school.
“It’s hardly enough to buy anything but that’s all I can give,” he said, adding that even ice cream was a luxury for his children.
He expressed regret that it was so difficult to get aid from government religious bodies due to red tape.
Mohammad was told he did not qualify to receive aid simply because he was able-bodied.
He is among more than 200 urban poor who are food insecure. They have applied for food aid from Hope Worldwide Malaysia, a branch of Hope Worldwide, an international non-profit charity organisation based in the United States.
Hope Worldwide Malaysia country director Darick Wong said the problem of finding enough food is especially severe among households headed by single parents with children.
More often than not, the parents are disadvantaged from lack of education and are surviving by doing odd jobs.
Some senior citizens were also struggling after they had been abandoned by their children, said Wong.
“We try to help them meet basic needs so that it will be less tough on them to emerge later in life and stand on their own feet,” he told The Rakyat Post during a recent interview with the food aid applicants.
The food aid, which started off in 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, sees the distribution of groceries to the poor and destitute on a monthly basis.
The amount for each recipient varies from year to year, between RM50 and RM100 each month, depending on the funding.
Wong said there had been many difficulties in finding sponsors for the food aid, and the tough challenges were clear as the recipients were limited to no more than 100 families a year.
“We try to encourage people not only to give money but also to give their time, skills and resources.
“We are building on volunteerism, it makes giving more reciprocal and fun,” he said.
The organisation is also working with a handful of corporate partners to capture and build on existing support including via employee volunteering programme.
For details on how to volunteer and take action for the poor and destitute, visit www.hopeww.org.my or contact Wong at 012-2320808.