I Cannot Read, But I Can Feel

My husband and I have our reasons for sending our children to the hostel.

The first year was the hardest. I visited my children at Asrama Desa Pukak (ADP) at least twice a week. Each time I left the hostel, it was so very difficult, especially for my nine-year old girl. The same went for me as well. She would cry; she wanted to return home with us. I cried too, but silently in my heart. I hardened myself and refused to ask for permission to let her return home. I hid my tears and pushed away my sadness.

I felt bad as I thought I was not a good mother to my children. I am not able to teach or help them with their school work. My neighbours said my children were ‘stupid’. I took my neighbours’ comments to mean that I am stupid and so my children are stupid like me. I am embarrassed and feel useless as a mother. This is so unfair to my children.

I am not literate. But even though I cannot read, I can feel. I do not want my children to be illiterate like me. I also do not want others to look down on them all because of my own weaknesses. I am willing to sacrifice my feelings and desires; I am also prepared to force my children to sacrifice their precious time with us so that they will have an education and a better future.

When my husband and I had heard that ADP is able to provide a learning support program for children, we decided to make enquiries. We are grateful that ADP still had places at the hostel for our children. I want them to get the best education and I know that they will have that opportunity at ADP.

After attending a few sessions on parenting skills and understanding children’s rights at ADP, I am now more aware that parents cannot deny their children’s rights, or force them beyond their abilities.

I am proud of the decision I made for our children. I know we are giving them the opportunity for a better future. I also know my children have adjusted to life at the hostel and are enjoying themselves there. I can see it on their faces every time they come back home.

Maity Ginil