PETALING JAYA: It is traumatic for 37-year-old Grace Edward to recount and make sense of the events that led to her family becoming homeless and living in their beat-up car.
For 10 days, her heart ached to see her six-year-old son sleeping uncomfortably in the backseat surrounded by plastic bags and boxes filled with their possessions.
“My son was suffering. He couldn’t sleep, was cold, and was feeling feverish. I couldn’t do anything to help him,” she told FMT.
Edward and her husband, Kumar Subramaniam, were evicted from their home in Puchong, Selangor, on June 29 after being unable to pay their rent.
She said since Kumar’s motorcycle accident two years ago, he has been finding it increasingly difficult to work long hours as a mechanic. Subsequently, his employers had to let him go.
Edward, a housewife, has been unable to find a job as she has to look after her hospitalised 56-year-old mother, who suffers from diabetes, kidney failure, and long-Covid symptoms.
“We couldn’t afford to pay our rent or send our son to school. It all became a mess,” she said, adding that she had tried to explain their situation to the landlord, but he dismissed her.
“I never expected something like this to happen to us.”
Since being laid off, Kumar, also 37, has only been able to work three times a week as a freelance mechanic. Weekly he earns RM100, which has to last seven days and is spent on food and petrol.
“I usually buy my son rice with some dishes. My husband and I make do with bread,” Edward said. “My son also likes fried chicken, but I can’t tell him we can’t afford it [and] he is still small.”
To complicate matters, she has not been able to ask her extended family for help because of a fallout that has lasted for almost two decades.
It has been extremely challenging, she said, having to live hand to mouth. Daily the family stops at the nearest petrol station to clean themselves up and get some food, before heading to the hospital to visit her mother.
“She got Covid-19 last year and depends on an oxygen tank,” Edward explained. “She also only has one kidney [because of her diabetes] and has to go for haemodialysis.”
Her mother also has a condition that leaves her skin patchy and flaky, making it difficult for her to move around with ease. “She can’t walk, and needs my help.”
Since July 9, Edward and her family have been staying in a flat thanks to a Good Samaritan who heard about their plight. But this relief is only temporary as they are expected to move back into their car on Wednesday.
“It has been very difficult [to find a house] because of our financial situation. The deposit is high, and we don’t have the cash for it,” she said, adding that, for convenience, they hope to find a place in Puchong.
Edward and her husband are seeking financial assistance, clothing, and support so they are able to send their young son to school. “My biggest concern is his wellbeing and I just want him to be safe.”
She is also seeking help to buy diapers for her ailing mother.
Asked about her long-term plans, Edward said once her family has secured a place to live, she hopes to start a homemade nasi lemak business online.
To make a donation to help Grace Edward and her family, send a WhatsApp message to FMT’s Helpline at 019-3899839. Please do not call.