COMMENT | Shanti (not her real name) lives in my kampung. Her husband is a lorry driver and a regular drinker who frequently skips work to be intoxicated. Due to his habit, the couple is often short of money.
A few years ago, Shanti made a decision to find a part-time job. A fellow neighbour offered Shanti some money for a two-hour home cleaning service. Soon, a few other people living around the neighbourhood who had heard about Shanti’s quality of work decided to hire her as well – including my mother.
Every morning, Shanti wakes up early to prepare breakfast and lunch for the family. She then sends the children to school before returning home to attend to her husband. Once he leaves for work, she starts her duties cleaning people’s houses. She usually manages to attend to two houses before she fetches her children from school.
Shanti found being a part-time cleaning lady very convenient as she could schedule her cleaning services around her children’s school schedule.
Charging RM30 for every two-hour session of cleaning homes, Shanti made up to RM1,200 a month. With the additional income, not only could Shanti help her husband with household expenses, but she could also afford to send her children for tuition classes. As a result, her two younger children started improving in their studies.
As more requests for cleaning services came in, Shanti began cleaning houses in the afternoon too. Leaving her two elder children at home and after sending her two younger ones to tuition centres, Shanti continues her work.
Shanti was proud of being able to provide for her family. Her children now wore better school uniforms and she could occasionally feed the children prawns and crabs – meals she never could afford to prepare before.