PASIR GUDANG: Qaseh Siti Aishah Abdullah and Qaseh Siti Khadijah Aminuddin were barely eight years old when they were orphaned after the death of their mother last year.
The siblings are now living with their aunt, senior human resource officer Rafidah Sulaiman, 41, in Taman Kota Masai with her husband and two children.
“My sister died in November last year while her husband died about three years ago, leaving their two children with no guardian.
“I consider them as my own and took them in,” she said, hoping they would grow up to be responsible and successful adults.
Siti Aishah and Siti Khadijah were among 100 orphans and underprivileged children who received school items and basic necessities through a programme called Edulife organised by non-governmental organisation (NGO) Johor Empowerment of Intellectual Women Association (Jeiwa) here.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik presented the aid to the children.
He hoped NGOs would continue to help the Government ensure the welfare of the public, especially the needy, was taken care of.
“NGOs play an important role as they are often the ones who are closest to the community and know what they lack or need,” he said.
Dr Maszlee said NGOs should also help the authorities identify stateless children in need of help to gain access to education. “There are children who are unable to go to school like everyone else, simply because they do not have the necessary documents.
“NGOs can identify them and work with the relevant agencies such as the Welfare Department, National Registration Department and district education officers to help them in the matter,” he said.
He said the ministry’s zero-reject policy, which was fully implemented starting this year, helped the ministry’s mission of ensuring no child was left behind.
To date, some 2,635 stateless children have enrolled in national schools nationwide.
Jeiwa president Nor Fadilah Mohamed Nizar said they identified at least 50 stateless children in Pasir Gudang, Masai and Kota Tinggi.
“Most of them come from low-income families, with some living with their neighbours or relatives after losing their parents.
“We will continue to help more children facing such problems and come out with an updated list of stateless children who need help to go to school,” she said.