Title: You are a nobody without an Identity
Date: 16-Sep-2010

Mogana and her mother, Kumari, live in a dilapidated low-cost flat in Setapak. Mogana’s house has no sofa set, bed or a television set but she is not bothered – she is happy with her small faithful radio, her only priced possession, to keep her company.

Mogana is full of curiosity, always very excited to explore new things that she comes across. Every time we visit her, she would always ask us questions in her broken English and simple Bahasa Malaysia.

When we were first introduced to Mogana two years ago, she was just 12 years old. Unlike children her age, she had never been to school, not even kindergarten. Why is she different from the rest and not able to go to school? She is one of the many underprivileged children in urban KL who are without a birth certificate. We were told that due to her mother’s illiteracy, Mogana has been dprived of going to school.

We asked Kumar why Mogana wasn’t issued a birth certificate since both of the parents are Malaysians. Mogana’s father left them immediately after she was born. Being unfamiliar with the law, Kumar failed to register Mogana’s birth and for the past 11 years, she has been without a birth certificate.

Kumari has no stable income. IN a good month, she can earn about RM200 as a part-time worker in one of the restaurants. “Kalau ada banyak kerja, saya boleh dapat dua ratus. Kalau taka da, satu ratus saja,” Kumari lamented during our interview.

In our country, without a birth certificate, one is deprived of the privileges of living a normal life. A birth certificate is a vital requirement for attending school and enjoying medical benefits, something we all take for granted. These are not accessible to Mogana. It’s as if she doesn’t exist – she is a nobody, a little girl without an identity or a future.

When asked what her dream is, Mogana told us that she just wanted to go to school like any other child. With a broad smile, she proudly told us that one day she will become a successful businesswoman; earning enough money to take care of her loving mother. Like everyone else, Mogana has high hopes.

Earlier this year, Mogana obtained her birth certificate and she is now the proud holder of Malaysian Identity Card, the MyKad. She is working towards her dream. At present she is learning to read and write at a local tuition centre.

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