A MINI refrigerator stood open and bare in the tiny room. Roughly 8m by 8m in size, the room above a shophouse in Chow Kit is clearly too small for a family of six.
The sight of the empty fridge is heartbreaking. One finds it hard to imagine the crushing poverty in which the residents of such a home must live.
The father, Desa Abdul Rahman, 50, is from Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. His wife, Sofia Abdullah, 34, is from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Before the epidemic struck, Desa worked as a part-time office cleaner and helped his wife to sell fruits in Chow Kit. The couple earned around RM50-RM70 a day. The couple had rented two rooms above the same shop house for eight years, but their family are now packed into one little room since their business was crippled by the movement control order.
Desa is not able to walk without assistance as he suffers from worsening gout. Sofia looks after the family.
The mother and their two sons – Adam, 12, and Mikhail, 10 – sell peanuts and masks in front of Yaseem Nasi Kandar, a popular restaurant in Chow Kit. Their daughter, Nurul Ain, 14, helps to pack the items.
The boys work from noon to 2pm almost every day.
Occasionally, they manage to make RM50, but most days they only earn RM10-20 – not enough to buy food and certainly not enough to pay for the room, which costs RM25 a day. They owe the landlord nearly three months of rent.
They are relying on charity for their food and basic necessities..
Desa is afraid the landlord will ask him and his family to move out any time.
“I have applied for aid from Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat and Baitulmal,” he said.
“I’m not a person who likes to ask for help from others, but in my condition, I have to. Thinking of my children’s future really makes me sad.
Desa said it is his foremost wish to see his children grow up in a better environment but he is thankful they have a home at all.
“This room may be too small for us, but Alhamdulillah, we still have a roof over our heads, though for how long, I don’t know.
Desa’s family is one of many B40 families affected by the Covid crisis. In a big city like Kuala Lumpur, people can easily become homeless after losing their job or their business.
Urban poor families are more likely to be unemployed or lose their income. They also experience greater challenges accessing healthcare and home-based learning. – July 15, 2021.