LAST_UPDATETue, 22 May 2018 12pm

MH17:Mum Stays Strong For Sake Of Kids

Pic:NSTPic:NSTBINTULU: HOUSEWIFE Simbut Kedit went through a lifetime of hardship but nothing has prepared her for what lies ahead.

The mother of three will have to live without her husband, Meling Mula, one of 298 people on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Simbut, 39, knows, however, that she has to be strong for the sake of her children, sons Gabriel, 8, and Benedict, 15, and daughter Maryline, 18.

The family live in a two-room apartment at a resettlement area for squatters in Sungai Plan, Tanjung Kidurong, here.

Since the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukrainian on July 17, the family have kept to themselves at home, waiting for news of Meling.

“It has been a long wait. Even the days feel longer,” said Simbut, adding that she had been contacted a few times by officials from Malaysia Airlines and the government. So far, they have not received any information on Meling.

For a week or so, family members and friends kept Simbut and the children company and prayed with them.

They also helped check for news on the tragedy and helped them with their routines.

“It has been more than a month, and once in a while, we would get visits or calls, but there have been no new developments. We pray among ourselves — the children, myself and some close relatives — every day,” she said.

“I also saw the arrival of the (remains of the) victims and the national mourning day on television. It’s so sad,” she said of the return of the first of 20 remains of the 43 Malaysian MH17 victims.

Sitting in her living room where an enlarged photograph of Meling sits on a makeshift altar with two lit candles, Simbut said her husband was a responsible provider.

“We first moved to Sungai Plan when Maryline was still small and built a house.

“We moved here because our relatives were here, too.”

Meling was from Sepaoh in Betong, while Simbut was from Sungai Arip in Balingian before they got married 19 years ago.

“He worked many jobs, from lorry driver to construction worker. Whatever work he could get to earn money for the family. Things got better over the years, but now, I guess things will be different.”

Three years ago, Meling was offered a job as a scaffolder on an offshore rig off Venezuela with a group of other Sarawakians. He would return two or three times a year to spend a month with the family before going back to work.

Simbut said the children, especially Benedict and Maryline, were really sad in the first few days following news of the crash, but “they are better now”.

Gabriel, who cuddled Simbut during the interview with the New Sunday Times, seemed oblivious to what has happened and even replied that he wanted to become a pilot when he grew up.

“He is used to not having his father around much, but I think he knows Meling is not coming back.”