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Homeless teen snookered despite high scores

 | March 22, 2017

How did her family escape the Welfare Department's notice?

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You would expect that someone like Farah Marcella Bandie, with her high SPM scores, would be able to move on to the next tier in her education. She can’t, even with her six As.

Her brother was in a similar predicament two years ago. Despite obtaining 5As for his SPM, he was forced to abandon his schooling because his mother could not afford to pay the fees. He left school to work in a snooker parlour to help his mother support the family.

Farah is one of several hundreds of thousands of Malaysians trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Her mother is a single parent because her father abandoned the family years ago.

Home for Farah, her mother and five siblings is the store room of a snooker centre. The mother, who is the cleaner for the centre, got permission from the owners of the business to camp there.

It’s not what anyone would call a good home. Camping in a store room is no way to live.

How did Farah’s mother escape the attention and help of the Social Welfare Department? Is it because people on the lower rungs of the social ladder find it difficult to obtain information? Is it because single parents have no time to visit a government department because they have to juggle between earning a living and making sure their children are sent to school and, of utmost importance, trying to hold the family together?

Farah caught the attention of her disciplinary teacher, Suraya Abdul Rahim, at SMK Seri Kota Puteri Pasir Gudang in Johor because she was rarely in class. Suraya wanted to know why a bright pupil like her was often absent.

When Suraya tracked down the whereabouts of her pupil, she was shocked to discover her true circumstance. This prompted the teacher to adopt the teenager. She did not want Farah’s talents to be wasted.

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Suraya’s brother, businessman Zaikhan Abdul Rahim, has also given his help. After Farah received her SPM result, Zaikhan decided to go on Facebook to write of the lack of funding for her schooling. Almost immediately, he was inundated with calls from concerned Malaysians who wanted to help.

Two days after the initial posting, Zaikhan was able to collect RM8,000. Conscious that people might be concerned about the proper management of the money, he has shown proof of the deposits into Farah’s account.

It is hoped that should be sufficient funds and Farah’s brother too would be able to continue his education.

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Farah has the determination and will power to succeed, and we wish her all the best.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s (or organisation’s) personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.


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