Orphans see outpouring of public support

Bonding time: Jia Hao helping his brother Jia Cheng with his homework. Jia Hao said he only meets the nine-year-old every fortnight as he currently lives with their aunt.

JOHOR BARU: Words of encouragement and offers of support from the public have been pouring in for three orphaned siblings whose plight of losing both their parents within the same year was highlighted in the media.

Yap Jia Hao, the eldest of the three, said that since the article came out in The Star on Oct 1, he had seen a lot of new faces at his wantan mee stall in Jalan Beringin, Taman Melodies.

“Most of them make it a point to give us words of encouragement, while some kind-hearted customers even offer to help us out financially, for which we are very grateful.

“I politely decline their offers because my siblings and I are not in need of anything right now.

“We are able to make ends meet with my stall,” the 19-year-old said during an interview here.

He added that on a good day, he could sell more than 100 bowls of noodles.

Jia Hao and his sister Zi Yu, 17, and their brother Jia Cheng, nine, suffered one heartbreak after another.

First, they lost their father to Covid-19 in September 2021.

Then their mother succumbed to heart complications in May of this year.

This forced Jia Hao and Zi Yu to start selling noodles at their family stall with the skills they picked up from helping their late parents, who were wantan mee hawkers.

Jia Hao said that his sister Zi Yu was no longer helping him at the stall as their mother’s friend, who runs a beauty parlour, recently took her under her wing to teach her new skills.

While he managed to complete Form Five last year, Zi Yu dropped out of school to help him at the stall before this job came along.

Jia Hao said their brother currently lived with their aunt in Taman Perling.

“Having a relative take care of his meals and needs while he attends school gives me peace of mind,” he said.

“I visit him every fortnight as my stall is closed only once every two weeks on a Thursday.

“I hope to have a weekly rest day in the future so that I can visit Jia Cheng more often, but I am worried about losing my customers,” he added.

His days, said Jia Hao, were tiring as he would start making preparations at 5am before opening his stall at 7am daily.

He also said that a charity NGO had been helping him with legal matters such as transferring the ownership of his parents’ flat in Taman Daya to his name.

He also aims to pay off outstanding utility bills incurred during his parents’ time.

Asked whether the siblings needed any additional assistance, Jia Hao replied: “We do not need anything else at the moment. I just hope customers can continue supporting my wantan mee stall.”

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