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Saturday, April 09, 2005

A Mother and Her Son

In one of my previous jobs, I was working in a construction site in the Klang Valley where some of the foreign workers stayed in an on-site kongsi (labour camp).

Our drainage sub-contractor had a Bangladeshi man working for them, his wife and little son stayed with him.

The wife was quite heavily built, the son was no more than 4 years old. Their kongsi was half of an old rusting steel cabin. With no running water and no electricity. Everyday, they stayed in that burning hot steel oven baked by the unforgiven sun, with no fan, no lights, no mosquito coils.

Every morning and evening, the wife carries her naked son about 500 meters away to take a bath at the water tank we use for construction purposes. The workers have erected a makeshift toilet under the HDPE tank using plywood and scaffolding. After the baths, she carries her son and a pail of water back to the cabin. The path is dusty, dangerous and hot, just like any other construction site.

Once or twice a week, I can see her bring her son and walk about 3 km out to the nearest sundry shop to buy groceries. Then its 3 km back again. Sometimes it so hot she stops and rest in the shade of the parked dump trucks under repair. The hyper active son never gets any sweets.

Twice a day, the wife and son wait patiently outside the cabin for the Indonesian guy on a motorbike that comes and sell packed drinks and kuih (local cakes) to the labourers. Twice a day, she buys a packet of iced water for 20 sen. Before she finishes the packet, she always gives some to her son.

The son is always smiling, and loves to play near the stockpile of timber and rubble stones. He doesn’t mind the heat, and always smile and run away when I pass by.

Burning heat. No water. No electricity. Mosquitoes. Dengue. Dust. Smoke.

A bleak future.

Sometimes life is hard.

(5xmom is organizing a gift collection for less privileged mothers and children around the Klang Valley. Please help if you can. Click here.)


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