Grandma begs to put grandchildren through college

Velaiamma started begging as a means to scrape together funds for her grandchildren's college education.

KUALA LUMPUR - Every day, a 75-year-old grandmother takes a bus to a temple here and turns beggar - to put her two grandchildren through college.

Velaiamma Somayya, 75, said she had been begging in front of a temple here for the past 15 years due to her poor condition.

She said her daughter, Sundari Meena Meenakshi Sundram, 52, worked in a factory and did not earn enough to finance the education of her two daughters.

"I started to beg as I have no other choice to help my grandchildren."

"They need to study for a better life," she said tearfully.

She claimed her two grandchildren were studying for degree programmes in institutions of higher learning in India.

"I send the money for their education and expenses. The rest, I use to pay for my house rental here," she said.

She said she could get between RM30 (S$12) and RM40 (S$16) daily.

"I will take a bus to reach the temple about 8am to beg in front of the temple," she said.

She said she had tried to do business by selling sarees but it did not work out.

"I lost all my money," said Velaiamma.

She said her husband had died and her five children could not help her as they had financial difficulties of their own.

Another beggar, Lee Geok Wei, 37, said she started begging after her mother disowned her.

"I worked in a hair salon and fell in love with a Malay man when I was 21. I followed him and converted, which caused my mother to disown me," she sobbed.

She said her boyfriend later left her.

"My boyfriend did not want to marry me and my mother did not want to accept me," she said, adding that her seven siblings had also disowned her.

"I am now suffering from HIV and diabetes," she said.

She said she got about RM20 (S$8) daily for her expenses and would sleep by the pedestrian walkway at night.