PENANG: Single mother Zaini Abdullah, who has lived in poverty all her life, has never harboured hopes of owning a decent house.
However, the recent directive by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to the Penang Bumiputra Steering Committee to build more affordable housing has given the likes of Zaini a ray of hope.
Abdullah wants such affordable homes built, especially for rent, under its five-year bid to eradicate hardcore poverty within the community by 2009.
Zaini, who earns RM10 a day as a school canteen helper, said it was beyond her means to own a brick house, let alone rent one.
For me, having electricity is not a necessity because I would rather spend the money to put food on the table, said Zaini, 42, a squatter in Kampung Pokok Asam in Jelutong.
Zaini has been staying all her life in the same dingy ramshackle stilt house, where she was born, with nothing more than the bare necessities.
My life turned for the worse when my husband died of heart attack 10 years ago. I had to single-handedly raise my four children, who are now aged between 12 and 19, she said in between tears recently.
Zaini said her sons, Mohd Zahid Hamidon, 19, and Mohd Zaki Hamidon, 17, were forced to leave school after Form 3, and were now working as a part-time labourer and a drinks-stall helper respectively.
Our total monthly income is about RM400 a month, she said, adding that her other two children Norazla Asena Hamidon, 14, and Mohd Azani Hamidon, 12 were still schooling.
Zainis neighbour Hamidah Abdullah, 50, said she did not want to be relocated elsewhere, adding that she was happy staying in the area despite the poor infrastructure.
If the Government wants to help, perhaps, they can provide us with planks and zinc sheets to repair our dilapidated house, said kueh seller Hamidah, who earns about RM300 a month.
People like Zaini and Hamidah will receive a boost following Abdullah's directive.