R. LAVANIA wants to become a doctor.
Currently in the third year of her medical degree course at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu, she hopes to graduate in 2023.
Lavania has had to face numerous challenges in her life and in her scholastic journey but she has never looked back.
She comes from a single-parent home.
Her father left the family when she was very young and her two siblings were mere toddlers.
As the sole breadwinner, her mother had to play the role of parent, guide and supporter while earning an income working as a clerk.
“We had a moderate life with no extras but mother was our sustainer, ” said Lavania.
Her mother believed that experience was greater than any other lesson and so, she did not shield her children from facing the challenges and insecurities of life.
“She gave me the strength to stand up to the bullying, harassment and embarrassment that I faced in school because I had no father, and because I was a girl, ” said Lavania.
“I decided at six years old that I wanted to become a doctor.
“My mother encouraged me, saying ‘You can be anything you want’.
“When friends asked me if I had a Plan B just in case I did not qualify to study medicine, I told them that there was no Plan B. That I would become a doctor.”
She received encouragement from her teachers and had been the beneficiary of emotional, psychological and financial support from EcoWorld ever since she was eight years old.
“Besides providing sponsorship and other help, EcoWorld staff have shared heartwarming times with me, imparting their wisdom and giving encouragement, ” she said.
She has some advice for students facing tough times.
“This Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that money, status, comfort and belongings are temporary things, but knowledge stays with us always.
“So, just go for it, ” she said.
Lavania hopes to work for a non-governmental organisation as her way of reaching out to and helping the needy.
Picking self up after being orphaned
Debbie Quah is a fourth year medical student at Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
She hopes to graduate in 2022.
She is the only child in her family and has been left an orphan at a young age.
She first lost her mother through illness when she was 16.
Not long after, her father died in a motor accident.
Quah was devastated.
“I wanted to give up on myself as I lost all motivation to move on.
“Loneliness and negative thoughts enveloped me.
“I felt so much regret and remorse.
“I missed my parents so much.
“I still do. But life goes on, ” said Quah, who received financial aid and moral support from EcoWorld since her primary school days.
With its continued support, she completed her secondary education and then enrolled at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, having qualified for a course in medicine.
“I am so grateful to EcoWorld, especially to Captain Datuk Liew Siong Sing, Tang Dee Leng and Tan Yang Wei, ” said Quah.
“I asked Datuk what I could do to pay back EcoWorld, and he replied: ’Don’t give back to us, give back to society’.”
Quah said that was what motivated her to be a doctor.
When she graduates, she wishes to make a difference in her patients’ lives.
She was once a motivational speaker at a function that EcoWorld organised for funders of its charity efforts.
She said: “Life is like a marathon race.
“The starting point isn’t so important.
“What is important is how we run the race and we are grateful for all the assistance we get to finish the race.”
Quah does, at times, feel the loneliness creep in.
To ease the isolation, she listens to her favourite band and role models — the seven-member South Korean boyband BTS, which has become the biggest exponent of K-pop music in the world.
Quah’s advice to youngsters facing challenges in their studies and in life is, “Your past and poor family should not prevent you from giving your best to become the best.”
Keeping the stress down
Rawiah Abdul Bakar has graduated with a medical degree from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan.
She will soon be doing her housemanship in Hospital Sungai Petani in Kedah.
Her father used to run a small eatery in Kulim before becoming a fishmonger.
He had to stop work in 2015 due to ill health and died some years later.
Rawiah was then in her second year in medical school.
“I had always wanted to be a doctor to help people, but initially, I was overwhelmed by the enormous challenges I had to overcome in my studies, including learning new terminologies and practices.
“I had to learn clinical neurosciences and otorhinolaryngology, among others.
“But nothing is impossible. If you have the will, you will acquire the skill, ” she said.
During her university years, Rawiah had to contend with burnout but the stresses were alleviated by the patients, staff nurses, doctors, cleaners and the makcik and pakcik at the cafe.
She said EcoWorld had always been her guardian angel.
The team from EcoWorld has been her guide and supporter since her primary school days, so much so that she considers herself a member of the EcoWorld family.
“They always took an interest in my mental and health condition to ensure that I continued to focus on my studies.
“In every way, they have been my emotional support, advising me on all aspects of life’s challenges.
“They even visited my father when he was ill, ” she added.
Rawiah said she would like to give back to society the way EcoWorld had done for her.
“It was my father’s dream for me to become a successful doctor.
“I will make sure his dream comes true, ” she said.
Rawiah’s advice to students: “Fix a goal and then stay focused.”