Widow of former drug addict struggles with stigma, poverty

'A meal with an egg is a blessing'

20 Mar 2024 09:43am
Nor seeks education, not pity, for children - Photo by Sinar
Nor seeks education, not pity, for children - Photo by Sinar

SUNGAI SIPUT - Nor (not her real name), a 44-year-old widow, carries the weight of a heavy past.

Even after her husband, a former drug addict, passed away last year, the stigma and financial hardship continue to burden her and their two children, aged 16 and 18.

"People avoid us. Some fear contracting HIV due to my husband's addiction, even though we're innocent victims," she told Sinar.

This stigma extended to her children, who endure ridicule despite their circumstances.

"As a mother, I urge my kids to stay strong," she said.

Working as a washerwoman, Nor barely makes ends meet.

Her monthly income of RM1,300 is stretched thin by rent, high commercial electricity bills, and rising food costs.

"Sometimes we have nothing left. A meal with just an egg is a blessing," she revealed.

Nor's attempts to access government assistance have met with discouragement.

"I've been scolded for filling out forms incorrectly.

"Requests for help fixing our leaky roof have gone unanswered," she said.

Education: A path to a brighter future

Nor sees education as the key to breaking the poverty cycle.

"If there's help available, educational support for my children is my top priority," she said.

Tragically aware of the consequences of addiction, she stressed, "Watching my husband suffer made a deep impact. I constantly warn my children to stay away from drugs and community support is crucial for families like ours to face life's challenges," she added.