How hard is it to live a hard life?
Between them, Suriani Aziera and her husband Mohd Fairus Yusof have six children and a household income of RM1,200 on which to live in Selangor, the richest state in Malaysia.
The housewife and the lorry driver, however, are among the nearly 50,000 urban poor who get assistance from charities and soup kitchens in the Klang Valley to survive. They get RM400 from the zakat or tithes collection managed by the Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS), which distributed RM22.2 million to 46,500 families in 2016, up 2,207 families from the 44,393 families registered as urban poor in 2015.
On top of that, 31-year-old Suriani’s eldest daughter has dropped out of school to look for work and supplement family income as the other children need RM2 a day for school expenses.
The house that shelters the family has been the subject of a dispute among Suriani’s extended family, forcing the couple to apply for a City Hall flat in Kuala Lumpur.
Despite their hard life, Suriani always tells her children how important education is, as she sees it as the only way to get them out of their situation.