Families of ill-fated flights’ crews get encouragement to carry on and honour their loved ones


  • Metro News
  • Monday, 06 Nov 2017

Nur Diyana (left) sharing a light moment with her aunt, Darlina.

IT TOOK a challenging three years for Nur Diyana Yazeera to accept the tragic loss of her mother who was on the ill-fated MH 17 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and she couldn’t have done it without the support of her aunt and other people around her.

Now, the spirited 18-year-old continues to soldier on and keeps the memory of her mother close to her heart.

“She lives in me and it’s actually her advice and motivation that have helped me carry on,” she said.

Nur Diyana recalls that her mother, chief stewardess Dora Shahila Kassim, was uncompromising when it came to her studies and instilled the value of hard work in her daughter.

“If I wanted something, I had to earn it and it’s a lesson I have held on to,” she said.

Recipients of the Flagbearer education fund with Liow, Hishamuddin and other VIPs.
Recipients of the Flagbearer education fund with Liow, Hishamuddin and other VIPs.
 

As a woman who prioritised her daughter’s education, Dora would have wanted Nur Diyana to continue to excel in her studies and the scholarly girl did not let her down.

From achieving 8As in her PT3 to netting 7As in her SPM, Nur Diyana is now pursuing her A-levels, with the ultimate goal of becoming a lawyer.

Nur Diyana, who initially wanted to be a doctor, changed her career choice after the tragedy robbed her of a loving mother.

“Up until now, we don’t know who the culprits are and that really motivates me to find justice in these kinds of cases,” said Nur Diyana, who counts renowned international and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney as her idol.

Nur Diyana also sees it as honoring her mother’s memory.

“She said she’d miss me for being at the hospital all the time if I were a doctor, so suggested a career in law instead,” said the teenager.

Eu established the Flagbearer Education Association to support the education of the children of crew members who perished on MH 17 and MH 370.
Eu established the Flagbearer Education Association to support the education of the children of crew members who perished on MH 17 and MH 370.
 

However, this dream was almost dashed as she and her family tried hard to fund Nur Diyana’s studies and was relieved when the Flagbearer Education Association presented them with funds to help her do so.

“The expenses for a law degree can be high, so the funds came right on time,” she said.

A brainchild of Eu Yan Sang chairman Datuk Anne Eu, the Flagbearer Education Association aims to support the education of children of the crew who served on MH 17 and MH 370.

Under the programme, each of the 40 children of 23 crew members receives RM40,000 for their education, which will be disbursed into their guardians’ joint bank account in amounts of RM5,000 every quarter for two years.

A frequent traveller, Eu was deeply affected by the twin air tragedies.

Although she did not know them personally, she always felt a familial connection with the Malaysia Airlines flight crew who made her feel at home and comfortable during flights.

“I often flew to Beijing on MH370 so when it went missing, my first thoughts were with the family of the crew members and how they would cope,” she said.

Norlaila with her children Wan Amirul Haziq, 15, and Wan Afrina Sofea, 11, posing for a picture with shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo at the event.
Norlaila with her children Wan Amirul Haziq, 15, and Wan Afrina Sofea, 11, posing for a picture with shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo at the event.
 

Since its establishment in 2014, four companies – Eu Yan Sang, Genting Malaysia Bhd, Hap Seng Plantations and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd – collaborated and grew the funds to a total of RM1.6mil which was distributed equally among the children at an event in Kuala Lumpur.

The mock cheques were presented by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, witnessed by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein who is also the association’s patron and acting transport minister when the tragedies struck.

At the ceremony, Hishamuddin encouraged anyone who wanted to help with the children’s education to come forward.

Meanwhile, Nur Diyana’s aunt and guardian, Darlina Kwan, said she was proud of the progress her niece was making.

“She was understandably angry after the tragedy, and did not want to see anyone.

“She spent her time in her room crying,” said Darlina, 38.

Now she is happy to see that Nur Diyana is stronger.

“We’ve always been close and my sister used to refer to herself as Mummy 1 and me Mummy 2. She would call me to help take care of Nur Diyana and guide her and that’s what I will do,” Darlina added.

Another family who is grateful for the help extended by the association is Nurlaila Ngah, wife of MH 370 steward Wan Swaid Wan Ismail.

Since her husband’s absence, Nurlaila, 43, had to be both mother and father to their three children as well as take care of her own father.

“I started a business making murukku and now I’m hoping to start an online business as well,” she said.

She is grateful for the funds from Flagbearers and said it would go a long way in helping her children, aged 11 to 15, achieve their dreams.

“The eldest wants to be an engineer and his brother wants to be a fighter pilot, while my daughter dreams of being a teacher,” she said, adding that their father would have been proud of the responsible people they’ve become.

The funds will also help Sharifah Asmaa Alwee Aljunied, 32, wife of MH 17 first officer Ahmad Hakim Hanapi, provide the best possible education for their only child, Abderrahman.

The affectionate four-year-old stole hearts at the cheque presentation where he rushed and hugged Hishamuddin on stage.

Sharifah, who works at the World Health Organisation, said she appreciated the funds that would help her to provide the best for her son whom she described as lovable and warm.

“If a stranger can step up and take the responsibility for our children’s education, as a mother, I would make sure my son gets the best education,” she said.

She said Abderrahman always asked about his father and Sharifah made sure she answered all of his questions the best she could.

“I don’t cry when I speak about his father because he might associate it with something sad. I don’t want him to think that of his father,” she added.

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