KLANG: She is only 30 years of age but the hardship faced by M. Nirmala Devi is simply unimaginable.
The single mother of three daughters – Padmini, eight, Saraswathy, seven, and Yuvenesha, five – lives from hand to mouth and struggles to make ends meet every month.
Daily food is just a dish of cooked vegetables and rice.
“I wish I could feed my children better food but this is all I can afford on my salary as a school cleaner,” said Nirmala at her home in Jalan Tepi Sungai here.
Nirmala, whose husband left her when Yuvenesha was eight months old, buys a meat dish or something special for her girls once a month on pay day.
Nirmala, who earns a take-home pay of about RM900, cannot take up jobs that require long hours of standing because her right leg is deformed from an accident in 2014.
“I was riding a motorbike when a car rammed into me and my leg suffered multiple fractures.
“I now have two pins holding my bones and my right leg is 2.8cm shorter than the left leg and cannot be bent,” she said, adding that she receives a monthly disability allowance of RM350 from the Welfare Department.
With her salary and allowance, Nirmala pays RM350 for her house rental, about RM100 for utilities and keeps the paltry balance for food and her children’s school expenses.
In spite of her hardship, Nirmala is adamant that her children excel in school and eventually achieve tertiary education.
“I come from a very poor family and had to quit school at Form Four to work and earn for the family.
“Because of my background, I am still struggling in life and education is the only way for my children to escape from the same fate,” she said.
Nirmala said she is currently saving up to pay for her daughters’ tuition fees as a tuition teacher has offered her a reduced fee of RM20 for one subject and she intends to send her two children for five subjects.
Despite her hardship, Nirmala has a cheerful disposition and says it is because she strongly holds on to her hopes and dreams of a better life.
“My children are my hope. We will overcome our difficulties together and I will work hard for the four of us,” she said.
A non-governmental organisation Community Development and Integration Initiative (CDII) is trying to help Nirmala sort out her woes.
“Nirmala needs help urgently and we hope the public will rise up to help her,” said CDII director Firoza Burhan.
Those who want to help Nirmala or get in touch with her can email firstname.lastname@example.org