Striking out on her own: Ah Lin\'s story

Posted on 24 November 2000

Striking out on her own: Ah Lin's story

Ah Lin* came to WAO in 1989 looking for peace, shelter and help after eight years of an abusive relationship with her husband. He used to throw plates and glasses at her, he slapped her when he was angry or in a bad mood. He abused her verbally, often calling her "useless". When she was pregnant with her second daughter, her husband brought his pregnant mistress to live with them. She was broken hearted. But she felt she had no choice than to accept the situation.

After one and a half years of more abuse, Ah Lin found the situation intolerable. She sought refuge at WAO. It took her eight more months to finally decide that she would live life on her own. During this time, Ah Lin returned to her husband once when he promised to leave his mistress.

He went back on his words.

The beatings and mental abuse got even worse and she moved back to the WAO refuge. Her second stay at the refuge was short. Determined to stand on her own feet, she found a job as a housemaid, and then as a waitress in a restaurant.

With quiet pride, Ah Lin announces that she is now the training captain at the restaurant, with more responsibilities. Ah Lin works a nine-hour day, spread over two shifts. She has joined English classes twice a week – because her new position requires her to talk to foreign customers. Despite the long hours, she enjoys her job. Ah Lin has made friends among her work mates and some of the regular customers.

On a typical day off, Ah Lin spends time with her two daughters, aged seven and five. They are staying at the WAO Childcare Center. She spends the evenings at her aunt's house. Sometimes, she finds time to jog, and enjoys reading a good novel.

Ah Lin's lodgings and board are provided by the restaurant. Her meager salary of RM450 per month plus tips is not enough to find accommodation that is suitable for her and her children. But for now, says Ah Lin, her daughters are accustomed to staying at WAO. They are rarely distressed when it is time for their mother to leave them after their day together. Ah Lin trusts in the care that her daughters are given at the center. She believes that given her current circumstances, it is the best option for all of them. She pays RM200 per month for the care of her children. Through the Anak Angkat Child Sponsorship Programme, her older daughter who is now of school-going age, receives $50 a month to help out with the cost of her school uniform, books and other schooling expenses.

Ah Lin is saving so that she can eventually have her daughters at home with her again. She says her future is uncertain. At the moment, she lives from day to day. She dreams of going to New York, or Japan, where she has friends who are making lots of money. Ah Lin wants to make money so that she can provide her daughters with the kind of home they need. She wants them to be educated, so that they will not have to struggle, or be faced with the circumstances and choices that she has had to make.

(*Name altered to protect identity. )

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