No sacrifice for my child
Published: 3 December 2014
It has been six years since I resigned from my job as an engineer. The initial reason was because my husband got an offer to further his studies aboard.
I was at the peak of my career, with a promotion to become a manager, the position and responsibility which I had been assuming in the past few years.
I always had this idea about financial freedom and how I could never survive socially by being a housewife. But what needed to be done was done.
I knew that going to an industrialised country will be a great opportunity for my then two-year-old daughter, Izdihar Janna, who has cerebral palsy, to get better education and treatment there, and so, I resigned.
Then, the crazy chase started, we ran around like headless chicken to prepare for the necessary documents in order to apply for a visa.
The requirements and documents needed were plenty and their government is very stringent. Only by August 2008, two months after I tendered my resignation, did we manage to send the visa applications.
My husband, my then six-year-old son, Ahmad Idzat, and I did not have any problem getting the visa approval but Janna's application did not go well.
They needed extra documents to support her application because of her disability and health concerns. We sent support letters from her doctors saying Janna would not be needing any heart operation throughout the next three years and that I am capable of performing her therapies at home.
We also sent copies of bank statements and financial guarantee letter from my husband’s company.
The next few months were full of question marks but finally, we received the reply letter. Janna’s visa application was rejected because they believed that she will impose a significant burden on their systems and firmly stated in the letter that we have no right to appeal.
My husband decided that he was not going to leave anyone behind and said goodbye to his dream of obtaining doctorate from that country. We had a long discussion on our immediate and future plans, including whether I should work again.
I did not think it would be fair to everyone if I worked outside the home again – I would not be able to focus on Janna’s intervention as much as I want to, but would need to be taking time and day off from work to attend to her various appointments.
After some serious consideration and discussions with my husband, both of us believed that we could afford to live with a single income, as long as we managed our finance carefully. We were always living a very simple life, so there was never a drastic need to change our lifestyles.
Some people questioned my stand, saying that I wasted my five years studying abroad for my bachelor’s degree and 10 years’ working experience by just being a home manager. But we make decisions based on what is the best, trusting God has better plans for us. Indeed, He always does.
So, here we are and here I am. I am still that independent woman I always was when I had a career, only now I am more content with my life. I never regretted quitting my job and there is no turning back.
I may have less money but more time to help Janna without carrying that sense of guilt down the road. Somehow, most of time, there were always enough money for the family. We just need to have faith in Him.
There were times, especially when Janna got discriminated by society and systems here, when I did think about the missed opportunities of better intervention programme, treatment and education for her in that country.
But if we were there, perhaps I would have never got to know many of my wonderful friends I have now because of Janna, and perhaps there will be no Malaysian Advocates for Cerebral Palsy.
I will only be helping Janna and myself, not other children with CP and their parents, and those who believe in supporting this cause. I would not be part of the Malaysian Partnership for Children with Disabilities, supporting families of children with disabilities and helping to raise the voices of children with disabilities to create a more inclusive society.
So I guess things could not be better than it is now. I lost some but gained so much more than I could have ever asked for.
I may not get the opportunity to experience living in another country, but I have the opportunities to use my knowledge and experience to create awareness and help empower others. It is how one perceives challenges in life and turns the lemons into lemonade.
I am going to be the change I want to see in the world for the sake of Janna and others. This is the path I choose. – December 3, 2014.
* Rafidah @ Rafizah Ahmad is a member of the Malaysian Partnership for Children with Disabilities
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