Being a single mother is not easy. It is even more challenging if the single mum has a special needs child.
Recently, I got to know Haslinah Ismail on Facebook. Haslinah resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor. We “met” each other whilst we were both in a politician’s page discussing about a newly upgraded swimming pool in Subang Jaya.
We were very disappointed to note that no effort was made to ensure that the swimming pool was fitted with wheelchair- friendly facilities before the authorities decided to launch it.
The promotional material boasted about able-bodied people using and enjoying the facilities. It left out the needs and rights of people with disabilities who, because of the omission, are now barred from enjoying the pool like everyone else.
Haslinah’s son, Habeeb, will be celebrating his eighth birthday next Tuesday. Habeeb was born prematurely. A few months after his birth, he had a seizure. Not long after that, his mother began to notice that Habeeb could not roll over like normal babies. He could not crawl, too.
Habeeb was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He is a slow learner, too.
Haslinah became a single mother when Habeeb turned two. That was the time his sister, Zandra, was born.
The unflinching love and support of family, friends and neighbours helped Haslinah through this rough patch.
Haslinah moved back to her mother’s house. Her mother helped to look after the two small children while Haslinah went out to work.
Haslinah sought all kinds of traditional treatment in hopes that Habeeb’s condition would improve. She is thankful that her son does not suffer from seizures anymore. In fact, Habeeb is able to stand with little or no help from others.
Eventually, Haslinah managed to save enough to buy a car to ferry the children around.
“Habeeb does not want to be coped up in the house all day. He wants to be out and about, play with his friends, and visit the shopping malls and other places like the swimming pool. He loves to swim,” says Haslinah.
Though Habeeb is unable to walk, he joins in all the family activities. He enjoys rides in the LRT. He will wave his hands and become more animated when he is having a good time.
Haslinah has worked out a list of activities they are planning to do as a family. These include jungle-trekking, taking a short return flight, having a ride in a fire engine, and getting into the recently renovated Subang Jaya swimming pool. But it will have to be wheelchair-friendly first.