She just wants to enjoy Hari Raya with family
Victim of abuse who lives in Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls says she has many chances to learn new skills
It has been five years since Nora (not her real name), 15, celebrated Hari Raya with her family.
Nora, now a resident at the Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls (PCWG), grew up being physically abused by her stepfather and clinically depressed mother, who is serving jail time.
"For every mistake I made, they would hit me," she said, rubbing a spot on the left side of her forehead.
"My stepfather had such big hands, and whenever he hit my small head it would be very painful."
The abuse got so bad, Nora was rushed to the hospital when she was 10.
As soon as she was discharged, a social worker took her to the Pertapis Children's Home (PCH).
Said Nora: "When we got there I was confused. 'Why are we here?' I asked, but I was told I had to stay there.
"I was angry, sad, and there were a lot of things I did not understand. This was not my home."
It is like being thrown here and there, then I have all this anger because I cannot get a proper family, like what everyone has.Nora
Nora has been in and out of the PCH and the PCWG multiple times.
She has been discharged to several family members in the past, including to her Malaysian grandparents, but they were all found to be unable to provide proper care.
Nora admitted the lack of a proper family background resulted in anger management issues.
"It is like being thrown here and there, then I have all this anger because I cannot get a proper family, like what everyone has," she said.
But Dr Sophian Kayat, divisional manager of Pertapis, told The New Paper that while Nora shows at-risk behaviour, she also has leadership qualities and is one of the brightest girls in the PCWG.
When the PCWG has visitors, like when TNP visited it last Thursday, Nora leads tours and explains the different parts of the building to visitors.
She is also part of several tie-up programmes the home has organised, including training in hairdressing, theatre workshops and a mentorship programme called Beautiful People.
Said Nora: "It helps to fill up my time, and at least I get to learn something.
"I have never had opportunities like this before."
Nora said life in the PCWG, which has about 50 other residents, is regimented but not all bad.
She considers her seven dormitory mates her sisters, and said the centre is the closest thing to a home she has ever had.
But Nora is quick to add that her biggest wish is to one day have her family reunited and celebrate Hari Raya together.
She said: "I hope one day I get to go out to eat and visit houses with family on Hari Raya, just like everyone else."