Sunday, September 24, 2006
Uncertain future for Chow Kit children
EXCLUSIVEBy PARVEEN GILL
They live in dingy homes along the streets of Chow Kit in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Their mothers are drug addicts and sex workers. They sell their bodies to feed their habit, leaving the children in a world of their own.
In the daytime, these children play in the vicinity of their makeshift homes and wait for their mothers to return. At night, some of them follow their mothers to work, sleeping on the pavements, while their mothers entertain the clients at home. It's a sad world punctuated by hope as kind souls from NGOs try their best to make life better for these forgotten children.
KUALA LUMPUR: They are the unfortunate kids of the world. Circumstances beyond their control have made the streets of Chow Kit their dingy home and unwelcome playground. Some are forced to tag along with their sex worker mothers as they ply their trade. Others share a rundown wooden house or a small room in a shoplot with their siblings, waiting for their mothers to return home. Most do not have much to eat and sometimes resort to stealing to feed themselves.
At night, some of these children, who are said to number in the hundreds in Chow Kit alone, sleep on the pavements while their mothers “entertain” clients at home. Ira is only 10 but plays “mother” to her four brothers, aged between one and seven, and a nine-year-old sister. All have different fathers. The children live in a ramshackle wooden hut in Kg Periuk, Chow Kit, with the magnificent Petronas Twin Towers in the backdrop.
Ira's 26-year-old mother Maria is said to have sold off her youngest child for RM15,000 last year, shortly after delivering the baby. Maria, who is a drug addict, is either at “work” or “high” most of the time. Meals are hard to come by, but thanks to Yayasan Salam Malaysia, Ira and her siblings get simple meals such as a cup of Milo and plain bread if they visit the local NGO Children's Activity Centre in Chow Kit. (See Doc: Treat children of sex workers like other kids). That too is subject to availability of food at the centre.
Ira goes to school with help of the NGO and well-wishers. “I hope to be a dancer or teacher. I would especially like to become a teacher because some of my teachers are very caring and loving towards me,” said Ira, when met at her “home”. She, however, faces an uncertain future, if things do not change for the better soon. There is a possibility that circumstances may force her to become a sex worker just like her mother and grandmother. Ira's sister Ish answered: “Entah (Don't know)”, when asked about her ambition. This perhaps aptly describes the uncertain future awaiting Ira and the many other street kids in Chow Kit.
Ten-year-old Chiku, whose mother Ora is also a sex worker, started school recently after Yayasan Salam consultant Dr Hartini Zainudin managed to obtain a birth certificate for him. While other children his age are discovering the wonders of the Digital Age, Chiku has just learnt to write his name. “Before this, when others went to school, I just roamed around here,” he said when met by this reporter. Chiku dreams of becoming a policeman because he wants to “catch bad people”. But if he fails at that, he said he would opt to become a motorcycle racer. When asked about his mother, Chiku bowed his head and replied: “She works very hard.” Ora, 33, said she tries her best to provide for Chiku, who is her firstborn. Her two younger children were given away after she gave birth to them.
STREET OF DESPAIR: The world of the Chow Kit kids revolves around the streets along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. For the children of the sex workers, numbering in the hundreds, the streets are both a playground and a place to sleep while their mothers 'entertain' clients at home.“My drug addict boyfriend is a heavy gambler. He forced me into prostitution when I was 20. I even had to entertain men for a mere RM5 when I was nine months' pregnant to support his habits,” said Ora.
Dr Hartini said there was fear that some of these children might have contracted HIV during birth. Maria, for instance, refused to take any precautions during intercourse. “In the case of Ora, her son can go to bed when his mother is done with business,” she said.
Friday, September 22, 2006
On a separate note, eere's a lil pix of the lil red book, a pressie from HP. No, no, I do not have communist tendencies. I'm a true blue believer in democracy, open market competition and capitalism. After all, these created an unlimited world of options for shopping!! ;o)
"Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are eliminated. Such is history, such is the history of civilization for thousands of years. to interpret history from this viewpoint is historical materialism; standing in opposition to this view is historical idealism." HMMM.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Some excerpts from my trusty travel log:
"On-flight (sunday nite): Met the head of anesthetics from Queen E hospital in KK. Gave her my card - hope she emails me. Hmm, on the other hand she's a Gold Card member... hopefully she doesn't call for favours :P. Apparently she used to attend LC and knows Philip Koh, Wong Sai Weng, Susan Khoo. SMALL WORLD! Quite a chatty lady, from KL spent 12 years in KK, no family... she was telling me about the challenges she faces when dealing with the government.
Arrived yest (sunday nite): Was raining cats and dogs! Staying in the lovely Magellan Sutera Harbour. The hotel upgraded my room to a Club Room, hehe, no balcony but with a beautiful view of the marina. Too bad no camera... and no camera phone! (going to get a new phone once I'm back in town.. must, must, must). Requested for room with single bed, but none available. :(
The hotel is packed with tour groups - Japs, Koreans, Aussies, Brits, you name it!! It's a shame it's been raining in the evenings so much tho. Eric picked me up for dinner.. it was STILL raining! And we went to an Italian place in town. The soup was good, pasta so-so (mushroom ravioli in carbonara sauce) and some biscuity pizza thing which I've not had before.. yummy! Dinner turned out to be most unexpected. Eric shared a life-changing experience, a conference he attended in Taipei. It was so hot and noisy talking in the restaurant so we decided to come back to the hotel lobby for a chat. He ended up sharing Psalms 50 and praying for me :P
Could not sleep much yesterday nite... mind was working so hard! Had some strange dreams involving M, his mum and some other ppl.
Today (monday morn): Had breakfast with CoSec and dir of safety & security. EVERYONE (except the 3 of us) was in shorts and slippers.. and me? I'm in a suit.. :P
Waited and waited and waited for the presentation on BEA... still waiting now. :( Looks like the meeting's not going to end at 1pm. Met some lawyers and bankers from Spore. One of the laywers knows Zoe... :P Small world. I'm frozen stiff.. it's so cold here in the waiting area, and I think in the meeting room too. Need sleep.. ZZZZ. Gosh hope I don't need to present! And that they don't ask me questions.
Yawning now... I think I've gone to the loo 5 times. :P SO COLD! Brrrr...
Hmm, I wonder if I should take the cab home from KLIA or just take the KLIA express to KL Sentral and then get a ride home.. Think I'll do the former so that I don't trouble Dad.
Am waiting in the Golden Lounge in KK (they DO have one!) for my flight... guess who's on the same flight?!! MD, CFO, Dir of Operations... sigh. My guess is I'll be sitting next to one of them... hmm "
In hindsight, I should have gone a little earlier to KK... found out that some of my colleagues who went had a mini golfing holiday there... :P
Friday, September 15, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Aunty Irene, to me, has always been a sweet little lady, kind and always smiling. As the years went by she walked a little slower but was still as gentle and as kind. I never knew that behind that gentle demeanor was a character of strength and perseverence. Never would I have imagined that she had lived the colourful life she had. It was only at her memorial that I discovered her trials and triumphs.
Even in her passing, she has left us with a gift.. a gift of friendship :). As an outcome of the events over the past few weeks I have made friends with the Voon family, and it has been a pleasure knowing them.
Yummy Vietnamese dinner with the Voons at Cungdinh, OneBangsar