Single dad hopes kids will have a better life

KUCHING: The going has been tough for single father Anthony Weng but he is soldiering on for his two youngest children.

Anthony, who stays at a toilet paper factory, chose to work there because it is near Sentosa Hospital, a mental health institution.

His daughter Maureen Anthony, 19, is an outpatient at the hospital and she requires constant care and supervision.

"I must be close to her when I work. Last week, she wandered off by herself three times. I got so nervous. The factory guard helps to keep an eye but it can still happen," said Anthony, 58, who has one Christmas wish.

"I've told my youngest, who is 14, that I'll send her for tuition. She needs to learn, study hard and have a better future. What savings I have, I've told her, is all for her."

Hermina Anthony, a student of SMK Penrissen, mostly scored Bs and Cs this year.

She failed Science and received an E for English.

Despite her challenging homefront, Hermina is a bubbly teenager, who enjoys representing her school at dance competitions.

"I like Mathematics. I got a B for it. Science is the toughest subject. History and Bahasa Malaysia are the easiest," she said, surrounded by chairs, clothes, plates and wok in a one-room house.

The space also doubles up as a bedroom. With guests around, mattresses were against the wall next to Hermina's medals from dance competitions.

Anthony, who started working at 14 after leaving school, divorced in 2007.

He has three older children living in Bintulu and in similar tough circumstances.

"I send some food to them sometimes. One is married and has his own kid. I hope they can be independent," he said.

Three years ago, Anthony moved to Kuching and found work at the factory.

The family is without any form of transportation, not even a bicycle. Anthony said he was grateful that some bus drivers let Maureen ride for free.

Everywhere they need to go, they walk.

Kelvin Wan, the founder of Hope Place, a charity that distributes food to the urban poor, said Anthony's family is one of 145 on its recipients' list.

"The mental hospital gave us 15 families to help support. Anthony has always been one of the most upfront. He hides nothing," Wan told The Star yesterday during his delivery route.

"When I first interviewed him to be considered for the food aid programme, he showed me his payslip. Some people might exaggerate their condition in order to get aid, but not Anthony. I know exactly how much he earns and how much they have after deductions. He will also show you his daughter's report card."