16-year-old leaves school and chips in to ease family burden

By Syed Azhar

KOTA BARU - Family poverty has driven a 16-year-old boy to quit school to help his father collect discarded cardboard boxes and recyclable products.

Nik Khairul Zaman Zahari, who left school early this year, makes RM15 per day to help his father supplement his income by walking around the town searching for aluminium cans and scrap metal.

His early morning routine for school has changed. He now helps his mother Nik Suriani Deris to send his eight-year-old brother to a school for spastic children.

Then, he goes around to hunt for discarded materials to be sold to a middleman.

"I have no choice but to help out because I cannot bear to see my father toil day and night to feed us.

"I will give my daily income to my mother to buy necessities such as rice," he said at his home at Kampung Cina here recently.

Nik Khairul said he was willing to sacrifice his future to help his father Zahari Musa, 43, who earns RM400 (S$160) per month doing odd jobs.

"My mother is unable to work as she has to take care of my two brothers, including my 13-year-old younger brother, who is suffering from epilepsy.

"I cannot sit by and watch my family suffer. As the eldest son, it is my responsibility to help my family," he added.

Nik Khairul's mother Nik Suriani admitted that the family needed him to supplement the family's income.

"Anyway, he has refused to go to school.

"He left after taking his PMR examination last year.

"We don't know how he fared because we cannot get his results slip as we were unable to pay his school fees.

"However, we are lucky as my second son, who is still schooling, receives RM500 annually from the Welfare Department," she added.