MANJEET Kaur, 31, sells vegetables at night to neighbours living in and around her low-cost government unit in Batu Muda, Kuala Lumpur. In the daytime, she toils under the blazing sun at a nearby empty land planting those vegetables to earn a living.
The heavy responsibility of feeding her family has fallen on her frail shoulders.
She has five children aged between five years and 11, a 72-year-old mother and a disabled relative to care for.
A few doors away, Letchumi Govindasamy is left to care for five grandchildren, aged four to 13, after the children’s parents abandoned them.
The 63-year-old granny’s only income is a paltry RM300 a month from the Welfare Department; with that amount she has to feed, clothe and pay for the children’s education.
At times, the family has to make do with biscuits and water for a meal as there is no money to buy proper food.
Three floors below, 53-year-old Ayaimah Sinnapaian struggles alone to care for her 35-year-old mentally-disabled son, Vijesh Veeran, while another family in the same building is burdened with the medical bills for their four-year-old bedridden daughter Jayasree Prithy Saravanan who suffered brain damage from a fever three years ago.
These families are among Kuala Lumpur’s urban poor who fall under “hard-core poor” category in the Government’s E-kasih programme, a national database to collect information on poor families in need of help.
Under the programme, the Poverty Line Income (PLI) for the hard-core poor in peninsular Malaysia are those whose household income is less than RM430.
There are hundreds of families in the city in similar situations as Letchumi, who are living below the PLI and are not registered with E-kasih.