SEREMBAN: For Ruzita Abd Aziz, there is nothing more devastating than seeing children of widowed mothers being forced to skip school and live in deplorable conditions.
“It is heartbreaking to see young, innocent kids having to slog with their mothers to eke out a living,” she said.
“That is why even after my fourth child, I implored my husband to adopt a seven-day-old baby girl whose mother was diagnosed with mental problems,” she explained.
The girl, whom she adopted in 2005, is still living with her.
Ruzita, the eldest of seven siblings, said it was this conviction that led to her opening a home for such children in December 2005.
Known as Persatuan Anak Yatim Darul Aminan, it is located in Ampangan near here.
“I decided to rent two houses at RM250 and RM350 monthly, each for the boys and girls separately,” said Ruzita, who worked in an insurance company back then.
Ruzita, 55, said she was grateful to God as her late contractor husband was supportive of her wish to open the home.
“After the seven-day old girl, I took in three young siblings from Rembau in January 2006.
“Their father had died and the mother only did odd jobs,” she said.
That woman, she said, had another two children to care for.
Ruzita, who quit her job in 2007 to devote more time to the home, also went to other districts, including Felda schemes, to take in children who led impoverished lives.
“I remember taking in two young siblings from Felda Jelai whose father had died and mother eventually died of breast cancer.
“Then I brought in two teenage sisters who lived in a garage with their mum and three other siblings in Port Dickson.
“Their stories were heart wrenching,” she said.
Among those who lived with her was Fadhillah Nor Nukman, who went on to represent the state in boxing.
Ruzita has had tough days, too.
“Once when I had 24 children in the centre, my savings were down to only RM1,000.
“But somehow my siblings and friends rallied to my aid and helped me pay the bills.
“This to me was the rezeki of the children,” she said, adding that she needs RM14,000 a month to run the home, which now has 20 children aged from two to 17.
Ruzita said it had also been a challenge to run the place after her husband died in late 2017.
These days, she has a small catering business.
There are also public donations to help run the home.
Ruzita is also proud that 14 children under her care had graduated from institutions of higher learning.
“One of my happiest moments was when one of the boys got married to a girl who also lived here after they left the home,” she said.
Some of the former residents, she said, would return occasionally to give donations.