Father of nine grateful for life’s blessings despite struggling to make ends meet with RM1,500 monthly income

Johari (standing second right) and his family pose for a photo after the 'berbuka puasa' gathering with other selected underprivileged families at Imperial Hotel Kuching last night (March 18, 2024).

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, March 18: Johari Said is a school bus driver who during the semester is entrusted to take care of other people’s children by ensuring they get from their homes to school and back again safely.

It is quite heartbreaking to hear from the same man who is a father of nine boldly admit the responsibility to provide for his nine children’s future and to put food on the table is tough and a constant struggle.


Hailing from Kampung Semariang Jaya here in Kuching and as the sole breadwinner, the 56 year-year old Johari said having a job for more than a year ferrying school children from Pasir Pandak to Santubong during this challenging time for his young family is a blessing, but with a salary of RM1,500, it is barely enough.

Johari revealed that before returning to Kuching, he used to work at Malaysia Liquified Natural Gas (MLNG) Bintulu, but his fate took a drastic turn in 2021 when he broke his left arm in a freak accident.

“Due to this accident and despite healing, I could not do the physical job like before. So I decided to return to Kuching to start a new life,” he told reporters at Imperial Hotel Kuching last night.

Johari, his 39-year-old wife Norazina Nasir and nine children aged 10 months to 11-years-old, including triplets (two boys and a girl) were among six underprivileged Muslim families invited by HOPE Place Kuching to ‘berbuka puasa’ at the hotel as part of the hotel’s annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts during Ramadan.

Imperial Hotel Kuching General Manager Patrick Kueh (first right) presents ‘duit raya’ to one of Johari’s children at the hotel last night (March 18, 2024).

“Yes, life is tough with heavy responsibilities and (my income) is not enough especially in coping with providing for family daily provisions, but I am grateful that I get the assistance from non-government organisations and my employer,” Johari said.

“In Bintulu, before the incident and despite having seven children at the time, I could afford their needs. It is different now,” he added.

Johari revealed that more than half of his monthly income is to buy his younger children’s diapers and milk.

“The children need at least ten packs of diapers and ten to eleven tins of milk powder, which cost between RM700 to RM800 a month. This has further depleted my earnings, and it is tough.”

Johari is thankful to the government as he had a permanent roof over his head. He and his family have been living at the low-cost Landeh Flats at 10th Mile for more than a month.

As for his family’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri plans this year, Johari said it would be another ‘normal ‘ festive occasion for him and his family.

“We do feel at a little ease as there is assistance from everybody like the NGOs, and my employer. I thank them and to me, there would be no problem,” he said. — DayakDaily