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Friday January 13, 2012

A new hat for single mothers

SINGLE parent Zatiah Sharif had to take on a few odd jobs to support her five children after her husband died from heart failure five years ago.

The 42-year-old from Batu Lan-cang, George Town, said she worked as a part-time census clerk at the National Statistics Department, as well as a temporary kindergarten teacher to make ends meet.

She said her monthly income of about RM900, which included RM400 in aid that she received from the Welfare Department, was often insufficient to cover the family’s expenses.

“My 12-year-old daughter died from leukaemia last year, while my remaining children aged 20, 18, 17 and 10 are still schooling.

“Thanks to the Penang Women Development office, which enrolled me for a free five-month sewing course under the Single Mother Skills Incubator (I-KIT) programme, I wish to start my own sewing business now,” she said after receiving aid in the form of a sewing machine, hemming machine and sewing kit under the Federal Government’s 1Azam scheme for single mothers at Dewan Nur in Kepala Batas on Jan 10.

Zatiah said she initially had no basic knowledge in sewing, but could now sew simple clothes after attending the course, adding that she hoped to apply for a Tekun Nasional loan of RM50,000 to start a home-based sewing business.

She was among 58 single mothers from the state who had completed their I-KIT courses in sewing, catering, baking and spa massage last year, and were chosen to receive relevant material aid to start their own business under the 1Azam scheme.

S. Magespattmavatee, 41, from Bukit Gambir, George Town, said her 57-year-old husband died from heart failure last year, forcing her to take on a part-time cleaner’s job at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) to help feed her three children of aged eight, nine and 10.

“I get a monthly salary of RM600, while the RM300 I receive from the Welfare Department for my children goes toward our house rental.

“I took up a spa massage course under the I-KIT and hope to start my own massage business for women. I hope to earn about RM50 from an hour’s massage,” she said, adding that she received a portable sauna and massage bed under the 1Azam scheme.

Homemaker Salmiah Ibrahim, 50, from Batu Uban, George Town, who divorced her husband four years ago, said she was grateful for the 1Azam aid of a mixer, plastic bag sealer and freezer, which would help in her cake and cookies baking business.

“It is very heartening for us single parents to receive such support and encouragement from the government to make us stand on our own feet to support our families,” she said.

Bertam assemblyman Zabariah Wahab, who is also Kepala Batas Women and Family Development Council chairman, said there were about 6,000 single mothers in Penang, of which some 3,000 were located in north Sebe-rang Prai.

“Many of these wo-men marry at a young age and end up getting divorced in less than five years, after not being able to cope with responsibilities in their married life,” she said.

Penang Women Development office director Yusman Hambali Ahmad said single mothers who were keen on taking up I-KIT courses could visit his office on the 7th floor of the Bangunan Perseku-tuan on Anson Road, George Town, or call 04-2274993.

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