Imagine a workplace without cleaners or general workers. Would your office and restrooms be as clean, or would everything in the office work well?
Many of us take these things for granted, often forgetting that some men and women work hard to make sure we have a conducive work environment.
These workers are human beings striving hard to earn a living, and just like you and me, they have their hopes and dreams, they have their worries, and they have their stories to tell. Most importantly, they have a voice that needs to be heard.
“In July after Hari Raya celebrations, my youngest daughter will be going to Egypt’s Al-Azhar University to study for four years. She will be the first among my four children to get a university education. I know that it is for her good that she goes. I’m very proud of her. But as a mother, my heart feels heavy to have my only daughter so far away from me for such a long time. I will miss her dearly.” Daniah Mohd Awi, 61, Office Cleaner
“I have multiple medical issues. I just went for an operation for my legs, and I am suffering from breast cancer. Why do I still work, even though I have all these issues, you ask? Both my children are still in school, and we can’t survive on my husband’s salary alone. As a mother and as a wife, I know my duties and responsibilities. I must work. My family’s well-being depends on me working.” Azimah Dzulkifli, 51, General Cleaner
“I travel across the causeway every day to come to work as I live in Malaysia. I wake up at 2.30am and leave my home at 3am sharp to take the bus to the customs. Usually, I reach work at 5.40am and have breakfast by the Singapore river before I start work at 7.30am. It’s tiring, but that’s life. Which job isn’t tiring, right?” Jamaludin Dayan, 58, General Worker
“I have a lot of experience working different jobs when I was younger. I drove buses and lorries in the 1960s. I was also part of the British Army when they were here. But I only drove forklifts for them. Other than driving, I also sold vegetables at the market. Those were the careers available to my generation then. I was young, eager and wanted to make a living doing different work back then. I am an old man now, so I am taking it slow and steady.” Tay Cheng Watt, 72, General Worker
“My father is a rubber tapper in Kedah, my mother is a housewife. Life has never been easy. My father started doing the job when I was 7 years old. I remember helping him with his work when I was growing up. I also remember we didn’t get paid for the days when it rained because we couldn’t go out to tap the trees.” Sarasvathi, 37, General Cleaner