When her mother’s health began to deteriorate due to diabetes, Nur Fatihah Sahminan gave up everything to become her primary caregiver.
For two years, she has helped her mother shower and move around the house. She also does the laundry and cooks their meals.
Sometimes she thinks about the things that she is missing out on, but she knows that her mother needs her. At any rate, she has a lot of time ahead – after all, she’s only 10 years old.
Nur Fatihah and her mother, Norlela Bujang, live in a small rented room on the first floor of a shoplot at Jalan Satok, Kuching in Sarawak.
There are 10 other rooms but only one bathroom and toilet which is shared by all of the tenants.
The rest of Nur Fatihah’s friends went back to school when physical classes started again earlier this month. But Nur Fatihah is still at home as there is no money to pay for transportation.
“I was diagnosed with diabetes in October last year,” Norlela, 50, told MalaysiaNow.
“I already lost my sight in my left eye two years ago. I started losing sight in my right eye two months after I had an operation on my foot due to my diabetes.”
Norlela was divorced eight years ago. Now, she and her daughter are all each other has.
With her health in decline, Norlela is unable to work. She and Nur Fatihah depend on the financial aid they receive from the welfare department – RM350 every month.
This, together with other assistance they receive from NGOs, is enough to cover their daily necessities and their monthly rent of RM400 – but just barely.
“We moved here in early January,” Norlela said. “We had to move because we were evicted from our previous rental house in Taman Sukma.
“We couldn’t afford to pay the full rent of RM800 each month after my relative who rented with me decided to move out.”
Sometimes, she and Nur Fatihah do not even have rice to eat but she said they feel fortunate and grateful nonetheless for the help they receive.
“We accept our fate,” she added.
Nur Fatihah said she is afraid to leave her mother alone as Norlela cannot see and depends on her to move around.
And as young as she is, she knows that there are other dangers outside their home as well. She told MalaysiaNow she has seen many drug needles lying at the entrance to the building’s staircase.
MalaysiaNow’s visit also found that there was only one entrance and exit to the building.
For now, Nur Fatihah will continue staying home and taking care of her mother. She says she will only go back to school if Norlela’s health improves.
When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she said she wants to be a police inspector.
“I want to study hard and become a police inspector, not only to look after my mother but to look after others as well.”