Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Those kids could soon be shatting like our PM, but not out of fear of losing a powerful position

Kids fed condensed milk, coffee as jobless parents unable to afford infant formula

Penang Hindu Association says up to 500 babies and toddlers, including from refugee families, in state need help

Refugee families in Penang received food aid recently. – Penang Hindu Association pic, June 30, 2021

GEORGE TOWN – As the Covid-19 lockdown wears on, causing unemployment to rise and businesses to stay shut, the health and nutrition of children in poor families are particularly affected.

It has come to the Penang Hindu Association’s (PHA) attention that parents unable to afford infant formula are feeding their kids condensed milk and black coffee.

PHA president P. Murugiah said despite non-governmental organisations continuing to provide food aid, the supply of milk powder for children is still very much lacking.

“Milk powder costs RM30 to RM40 per kg, and these families have four to five children, all babies and toddlers.

There should be some kind of milk aid provided to these families. Around 400 to 500 young children in Penang need milk.

“I’ve had someone call up asking for help, as the children in a family have been drinking diluted milk. Instead of giving four spoonfuls of milk powder, just one or 1½ spoonfuls would be diluted and fed to each child.”

He said the practice is common in these trying times among refugee families who previously earned a daily wage doing 3D – dirty, dangerous and difficult – jobs.

“It’s very difficult to talk to them, as they are timid and reserved. They are worried about getting caught even though they have UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) cards.

“Every time they get caught, they’d have to pay under-the-table money ranging from RM300 to RM500.

“They already don’t have enough money to eat, and they can’t go back to their home country. They don’t have the network, and they don’t know where to go for help.”

Milk powder costs RM30 to RM40 per kg, far beyond the reach of many B40 households suffering income loss amid the pandemic. – Penang Hindu Association pic, June 30, 2021

Some poor families are unaware of the consequences of giving children sugary drinks, he said, pointing out that a diet of milk, coffee and tea sweetened with sugar does not provide the necessary nutrients for cognitive development.

“These parents want their children to do well in the future, but they don’t know that their children need proper food and nutrition.”

PHA reached out to 18 families suffering in silence for the past six months after losing their sources of income, surviving only on instant noodles, biscuits and coffee.

They shared their fear of being forced out into the streets due to their inability to pay rent.

PHA and Klinik Derma Sivasanta (KDS), which has been coordinating free health treatment for the poor, are distributing groceries and milk to families in need, with refugees among those who received such aid recently.

After the initial distribution of rice, oil, atta flour, sardines, sugar, coffee, milk powder, eggs and other grocery items, they found that more aid was needed.

Yesterday, PHA and KDS returned with infant formula and RM50 for each family.

PHA is appealing to the relevant authorities and other civil groups to help lighten these families’ burden.

Since the lockdown began in March last year, PHA and KDS have come to the aid of over 300 families in the B40 group, refugees and others in need in both Penang and Kedah.

Those interested in rendering assistance can contact Murugiah at +6016-444-9246. – The Vibes, June 30, 2021

1 comment:

  1. At the same time, these organisations have to advise those desperately seeking assistance to practise family planning.

    In their dire situation, the cannot afford to have so many children.