Teen orphans looking after youngest sibling, selling noodles to survive

Siblings Jia Hao and Zi Yu preparing wantan noodles at their stall in Jalan Beringin, Taman Melodies in Johor Baru. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

HAVING lost both parents within a year, a pair of teenage siblings are now selling wantan noodles so they can fend for themselves and care for their nine-year-old brother.

Yap Jia Hao, 19, said his entire family contracted Covid-19 in September last year.

His father died at the hospital later that month.

In May, the grieving siblings suffered another loss when their mother died of heart complications.

This forced Jia Hao and his 17-year-old sister Zi Yu to start selling wantan mee at a coffeeshop in Jalan Beringin, Taman Melodies, Johor Baru.

“Our late parents were wantan mee hawkers in Taman Century.

“I used to help them out at their stall.

“I cook the dish while my sister serves the customers,” said Jia Hao when interviewed at the stall.

He is also grateful that some of his parents’ loyal customers continue to support his stall.

A typical day for the siblings starts at 5am.

They prepare the ingredients and also get their younger brother ready for school.

“It is quite tiring as we have to head out early from our home in Taman Daya to open the stall by 7.30am.

“After wrapping up the day’s operation at 2.30pm, we will go home and continue preparing our ingredients such as the meat filling for the wantan,” he said.

They usually opt for ehailing rides to get around as they do not have a car.

Jia Hao has just obtained a driver’s licence but has no plans to buy a car just yet.

“A kind-hearted customer offered to let me use his car and after some consideration, I am going to accept as it will help us save money.

“I usually spend RM30 to RM40 daily on transport alone,” he added.

While he managed to complete Form Five last year, he said Zi Yu dropped out of school to help him at the stall.

The siblings can sell up to 100 bowls of noodles on a good day.

“We have no plans for the future right now as our priority is to survive and ensure that our brother, who is in Year Three, can continue his studies,” said Jia Hao.

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