Sarimah was a normal kampung girl who had a normal
upbringing. She worked hard at school and also in her father's
paddy fields. She was the top student in her class.
Unfortunately, her father
suffered a heart attack and was confined to their home, unable to tend the
fields. Her six siblings, three boys and three girls were too young to
understand. Sarimah knew by the look on her mother's face that she would have to
take over. At the young age of sixteen she decided that she would not let her
family suffer poverty. She forged ahead with the harvest and made sure the
livestock was well fed.
She got help from the local Mardi and Felda officers who gave her the
financial and practical backing. Despite her busy and complicated life, she
still managed to continue with her schoolwork. Her mother sold cakes and tended
to the fruit orchard that supplemented their income in the dry season. As she
worked, Sarimah didn't neglect her siblings. She paid a kind teacher in the
village some money to tutor them. She started selling handicrafts obtained from
the local villagers at the weekend markets in K.L. There were times when she
would cry herself to sleep.
Soon she could manage the farm, orchard and her studies as she had engaged
some Siamese odd jobbers to tend to the fields. This gave her time to study and
look after the family. Her business evolved and she managed to study
agribusiness in UPM. Nevertheless she returned to the village and saw her
siblings through college. Today, all of them have successful careers of their
own. Her father and mother now live a simple but comfortable life. Sarimah today
is happily married and has three children of her own. As she looks back on her
past, she can't help but wonder where she got the strength and resolve to do all
that she did. She said to me once, 'I am amazed at what people can achieve when
they are forced to.'