GEORGE TOWN - It is a heart-wrenching sight to see paralysed five-year-old Natalie Ong Jue Er being pushed in a stroller by her uncle Lee Hoe Seong who sells tissues.
Lee, a 35-year-old odd-job worker, is raising money to meet the monthly RM800 (S$309) medical bill for his niece's acupuncture treatment.
"My niece fell down from the sofa when she was eight months old. The impact damaged her nervous system which led to paralysis.
"These days, she can only lie down.
"As I'm an odd-job worker, I sell tissues along Jalan Macalister to earn extra cash," he said.
Lee said Natalie's condition is improving following the twice weekly acupuncture sessions with a Chinese sinseh.
"Previously, she could not talk but after several sessions, she can at least utter some words," he said.
He said she could understand what people said to her and would laugh when she saw something funny on television.
"She would cry uncontrollably if it was something scary," he said.
Grandmother Tan Lay Im, 58, said Natalie's mother, who is separated from her husband, is working in Kuala Lumpur to ease the family's burden.
"She will send us RM500 to RM600 a month but our total income is still less than RM1,000.
"After paying RM800 for the acupuncture treatment, the rest of the money goes to paying utility bills.
"We have barely enough to spend on food," she said, adding that they had lost touch with Natalie's father.
Tan said her granddaughter had milk and oats for breakfast and porridge for other meals.
Penang Hospital Board of Visitors chairman Lim Thoon Deong, who heard of their plight, paid the family a visit yesterday and handed over RM200 and food items and diapers worth RM300.
He said he would help them to find a paediatrician. "I will also help them to apply for aid from the Social Welfare Department.
"Those looking after chronic patients are given RM300 monthly aid," he said.
Lim said he would also check with the hospital if they could provide equipment such as a special mattress and a wheelchair for Natalie.