An 11-year-old Malaysian girl living in the east coast state of Kelantan had to shoulder parental responsibilities alongside her older brother over their four younger siblings after their mother and father were jailed for drug offences.
Sinar Harian reported that Nurul Farisha Mohd Ridzuan, the second child of five siblings, prepares food daily for the younger boys, aged one, three and six respectively.
The children are currently living with their 63-year-old grandfather, who suffers from chronic asthma and their grandmother, 56, who is the breadwinner of the family and could not stay at home most times.
According to Nurul, as soon as their grandmother leaves the house to sell massage oil from door to door from 9 am to 6 pm, she will start preparing food for her brothers.
“Every day I would cook rice, fry fish and sometimes make instant noodles for my brothers,” she told Sinar Harian at their house in Kubang Terap on Sunday.
As the house is not equipped with a gas stove, she prepares food using a stove made of wood. Nurul carries the youngest boy while making food to prevent the toddler from crying.
She will also monitor her other two younger brothers while they play while rocking the youngest’s cradle.
Nurul added that due to their limited source of income, she had to give the one-year-old boy sweetened condensed milk instead of powdered milk to drink.
The girl pointed out that the last time they went to school was two years ago when they previously lived in Seremban in Negeri Sembilan before moving to Kelantan.
“The last time we went to school was when we lived in Seremban. I am not good at writing and reading but my (older) brother is,” she said. “We really want to go to school, but our life is not like everyone else’s.”
In a follow-up report by Sinar Harian, the Social Welfare Department (JKM) responded saying that the five siblings will receive RM900 monthly assistance in the near future.
Kelantan JKM director, Said Sidup stated that his team has conducted a thorough investigation and has met the five siblings, including the grandparents who live with them.
According to Said, JKM has also handed over an immediate assistance fund of RM300 to their grandparents for daily expenses.
“We found out that the children did not go to school, so we will hold further discussions with the District Education Office (PPD) to ensure that their studies are not disrupted after this,” he said.
“We also understand that the youngest child among the five siblings does not have MyKid. So we will forward this matter to the National Registration Department (JPN) for further action,” Mr Said told Sinar Harian yesterday.
Commenting further, Mr Said added that regular monitoring will be carried out periodically so that the Department’s financial assistance reaches the five siblings.