Families eke out living selling home-grown vegetables

A woman hanging white flag symbolised in needing aid from the public. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KUCHING: A group of nine families who live at a workers’ quarters at Batu 9, Matang near here are selling their home-grown vegetables in order to survive during the current pandemic.

Even though they only earn around RM30 per day, for them, it is enough to buy food for the whole family.

Our reporter was a bit shocked to see their settlement — the quarters, in which they lived, was a three-storey shophouse that had been abandoned and looked rather dilapidated.

One of the occupants, Annie Chong, 37, when met, said she decided to sell vegetables such as cangkuk manis and tapioca leaves as she had not been able to work since the movement control order (MCO) was re-implemented.

“As a labourer, I am solely dependent on day wages but since the MCO was implemented, I have been out of work for more than a month as the construction sector was ordered to close.

“Therefore, to earn an income, I sell my home grown vegetables two or three times a week as the (planting) space is limited.

“I can earn around RM30 a day and I am very grateful because I have money to buy necessities for my family,” said Annie, who has lived in the quarters for more than four years with her three children, aged 20, 12 and 8 respectively.

Annie said she was very grateful when the RM500 Pemerkasa assistance package money was credited to her account a few days ago. She and her children also received assistance from the school, Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) food aid and several individuals.

Meanwhile, Annie, who was also seen raising a white flag at her residence, said she had to do so because she was worried about her declining financial status.

For Jocel Yinn Nali, 21, who has lived in the quarters for the past two years with her husband, nine-month-old child and five other family members, she said she would buy her baby’s necessities such as formula milk and disposable diapers first every time her husband got paid.

“I will make sure that my child’s needs are adequate before I buy food and other necessities.

“If there is no money at all, we will eat our own crops such as cangkuk manis, tapioca leaves and so on,” she explained.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Carolina Bujing, said since she and her husband are entirely dependent on her husband’s income. They have had to use their savings to buy necessities for their eight-month-old child since the MCO was re-implemented.

“I really hope that our situation will not continue like this,” she lamented.

Most of the families living in the quarters are from Sri Aman and Lubok Antu. They came to Kuching with the aim of finding work to support their families.

Their livelihood may be look very poor, but they remain grateful as long as they have paid jobs to cover the daily expenses of the family, and at the same time, they will make sure their children are sent to school so that in the future, they can change their family lives.