She wants to give kids better life

She wants to give kids better life
TOGETHER: Miss Milah and her children live in a one-room flat in Ang Mo Kio, but she hopes to move into a bigger flat.
PHOTO: The New Paper

She had seven children in seven years.

What made things worse for the unwed mother was that she had to raise them mostly on her own because the children's father was in and out of jail.

Uneducated and poor, she turned to prostitution and was also jailed for drug offences.

Her eldest child was last week convicted of having sex with underage girls.

Miss Milah has an 18-year-old son, Samsudin Abdullah, and six daughters aged between 11 and 17.

Samsudin was sentenced to reformative training last Tuesday for having sex with three underage girls, theft and receiving stolen property.

Speaking to The New Paper at her one-room rental flat in Ang Mo Kio last Wednesday, Miss Milah, 36, said she was furious when she found out what her son did.

"I worked like a dog to provide for him and his sisters. I wanted to give them a better childhood, one that I never had," she said.

"But maybe it's good that he learns from this experience and comes out a better person."

Raising seven children was a hellish struggle that often left her crying at night, but she said there is nothing she would not do for her children.

Miss Milah was raised by her grandparents, whom she thought were her parents, till she was 10. It was only after her grandmother died that her relatives told her the truth.

Her grandfather remarried, but Miss Milah could not get along with his new wife, so she moved in with her aunt.

At 15, she met her first boyfriend, who was five years older.

She said: "I fell in love with him because I never had any love from family. My mother didn't want me and I never knew my father."

She became pregnant soon after.

"I was shocked and at a loss when I first found out about the pregnancy. I was young and didn't know what to do," she said.

"But I did not want to be like my mother, who didn't want me. I didn't want to give up my child."

In 1996, she gave birth to her son.

She claimed her boyfriend drank heavily and was abusive.

"I don't know why I stuck with him. He was the first person who was very kind to me and I thought I would just bear with it and stay by him," said Miss Milah.

UNSURE

She said she did not marry him because she was unsure if he would change his ways.

They had two more children before they moved into the Ang Mo Kio flat in 2001. That year, she was jailed for 10 months for consuming drugs.

When she got out, she returned to her boyfriend.

Miss Milah said her boyfriend was also arrested and jailed for various offences, including drugs.

"Each time he came out, we would get back together and have a child. It was as if he was treating me like KK Women's and Children's Hospital," she said.

She went on to give birth to four more girls, including a pair of twins, despite her boyfriend's continued abusive behaviour.

But by 2004, she had had enough and she chased him out of her home.

She said she struggled to make ends meet and decided to become a prostitute after a friend suggested it.

"It was the worst period of my life. I hated it, but I did it because I needed the money quick for my children."

And she went back to drugs.

It was also in that year that the authorities placed her seven children in different foster homes.

"I was sad. Imagine your kids taken away from you for years. I really wanted to get them back, but I was on drugs and alcohol and involved in illegal activities," she said.

The turning point came in 2008, when she was jailed 18 months for heroin abuse.

Her sentence was increased to 19 months after she fought with an inmate. She spent 11 months in an isolation cell.

She said: "Those 11 months set me straight. I had so much time to think over what I wanted to do with my life. I resolved to change."

After her release in 2010, she picked up odd jobs and worked hard to regain custody of her children.

Today, they live together in the one-room flat, which is stocked with four electric fans, soft toys and a stack of blankets the family lays out on the floor when they sleep at night.

Money, Miss Milah said, is her greatest challenge in bringing up and providing for her children.

She earns $1,900 a month from her cleaning job, where she is a team leader.

"It's hardly enough to feed my children. That's why now I have to budget carefully. I cook every day," she said.

"It hurts every time I turn down my kid's request to buy them a fast-food meal. I usually tell them I'd buy it for them another time."

While she had her own brushes with the law, it pained her to watch her son packed off behind bars.

"As a mother, you can only tell and warn them not to do something and provide an environment for them to grow up in," she said.

This is why she is planning to leave her one-room Ang Mo Kio flat and move to a two-room unit in Yishun.

"We've had so many bad memories here. Once I'm done clearing the backlog of utility bills, it's time for a fresh start."

rloh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 25, 2016.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDED CONTENT

SPONSORED CONTENT

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.