DUNGUN – It is true what people say that a smile can hide every pain and a thousand problems, just like this senior citizen, Azizah Bakar (picture), when she greeted this Bernama reporter, who arrived at her home in Kampung Keliyu here.
Her sweet smile hides the hardship she has endured in bringing up six of her 12 children who were born with disabilities, but she persevered, taking it all as a test from Allah.
Azizah, 70, said she had 1001 sweet and bitter memories in raising her six special children who are named Mohd Fairus Kamaludin, 43; Mohd Zulkifli (40); Hazura (37); Hatikah (35); Mohd Shahrul (30) and Mohd Azeem Asyraf (27).
They were born mute and with abnormal mental development, she said, adding that two of them, Mohd Zulkifli and Hazura, could not walk since they were in their 20s.
“My oldest to the third child were born normal. It started with the fourth child, Mohd Fairus, then the fifth, seventh and eighth, the 11th and the youngest. Their six other siblings are normal.
“It was sad enough when I got to know my fourth born is not normal, what more to have five other children with disabilities. I used to ask myself why it happened to me, but after pondering over it, I have accepted it as what Allah has fated me with. It is His will and I accept it,” he said.
Despite not as strong as she used to be, Azizah never complained and promised to take care of her special children until she died.
“Since they were little, they have never been away from. They cannot be left alone or unattended. I always worry that something bad would happen to them if I were to leave them, and because of that, I have never been anywhere. I need to take care of them.
“I am grateful that my other children are normal and they also help me to look after their special siblings,” she said.
Azizah said she really had to struggle during the early years as the children were still small and needed attention.
At that time, she said, there was no welfare aid and the family only depended on her husband, Kamaludin Embong’s income as a village head.
“In the 1970s, there was still no welfare aid for persons with disabilities (PwDs). Life was really hard that sometimes, had to ration our food. Our regular meal then was just rice and fried egg. Fortunately, these special children are not picky and they eat what is given to them and never ask for anything.
“When they were little, only Allah knows how tired I was because of the close gap in age among my 12 children,” she added.
She said that since 10 years ago, her PwD children had been getting RM300 monthly allowance from the Social Welfare Department.
Azizah said in having PwD children, she used to feel ashamed and did not want to mix with other people as there were some who were cynical of her.
“Some of them asked me why I have so many PwD children, but now I am grateful and proud to have been able to raise them well. Despite being born with disabilities, most of them can take care of themselves and they also help each other, as well as help me with the house work,” she added.
In conjunction with Mother’s Day tomorrow, Azizah advised mothers, especially those with PwD children, to always be patient , love and appreciate the children.
“We need to have strong spirit and take care of them with love. The children do not understand anything and they did not ask to be born that way.
“They are given to us by Allah, so we have to accept them as they are,” she said, with tears in her eyes, while trying hard to smile.