PETALING JAYA – The story of a low-income family with 33 members cramped within two apartment units is making waves online after a social worker posted photos of their living conditions on social media.
In an interview with Sinar Harian, Nurul Ima said this was her second time visiting the family and was shocked to witness their living arrangements. According to her, the owner has four wives and 28 children, which caused his oldest child, aged 20, to leave as he was reportedly ashamed of his family’s societal status.
“His youngest child is only 1-years-old, and his fourth wife is now pregnant!”
Nurul said the family pays rent with zakat (money usually reserved for almsgiving) and that the man’s wives occupy all four rooms within the two units.
“The children do not have a room to sleep in. Their environment is messy and uncomfortable.”
When she asked the father where his children would often sleep, he said that his daughters slept in the rooms while his sons slept in the living room.
Nurul also expressed her frustration over the father’s apparent stubbornness and refusal to provide his children with proper education.
“The father claimed that he had no transport to send his children to school. However, when someone offered to rent a van to do so, the children refused to attend classes.”
“He [the father] believed that it was a sign of his children’s entrepreneurial attributes. ‘They’re geniuses. Like birds, they don’t like to be confined.‘“
When Nurul offered to send the kids to her cousin’s religious school, the father rejected it, insisting that he would send his children to Pondok Pasir Tumpoh instead, reportedly the top religious school in Malaysia. He even boasted of seeing them furthering their studies in Cairo, Egypt.
“When I asked how he plans to enrol his children into the school, he told me that his wives will handle it.”
“I couldn’t help but wonder about the children’s wellbeing – whether they’ll have enough to eat or a proper place to pray and sleep.”
Nurul stressed that she had no intentions of spreading negativity during the month of Ramadan.
“If anyone can help the children have an education and offer them a better life, please do. It’s rather saddening to see their faces,” she pleaded.
Thankfully, her post caught the attention of kind-hearted individuals and NGOs who offered to assist the family.
“Alhamdulillah. As a result of the post, public figures and several NGOs have contacted me and offered help for the children,” she wrote in a recent update.
However, the post was later taken down as Nurul felt that it was inappropriate to disclose the family’s living conditions after receiving comments from netizens.
She also gave the children a personal piece of advice regarding their future.
“You may feel ashamed now, but one day, when you are free from the current ‘prison’ you’re in, you will see a better world out there.”
She added that they will always be family to her and hoped that her intentions would be understood when they become older.
Zakat Selangor steps in
After the post went viral, Zakat Selangor released a statement over the case, saying that they have provided the family with various forms of financial aid such as rental subsidies, school fees, and emergency and living expenses.
Its CEO, Tuan Haji Saipolyazan Mat Yusop, added that the organisation plans to compel the family into signing an affidavit, which will motivate them to make significant changes to their lives.
Saipolyazan also assured that Zakat Selangor would provide the necessary guidance to the family, especially the father.
“We will also help the children who have missed out on their secondary education by providing them vocational lessons to sharpen their academic capabilities.”
What do you think about the case?
Sources: Sinarplus, SinChew Daily
Editor: J.W Chan
Proofreader: Sarah Yeoh