Salute to mums in the Covid-19 frontlines


Dr Mawaddah spending some time with her twin daughters Zahara and Zuleika before clocking in to work. — HISYAM SALLEH

A mother’s love is incomparable, and during these particularly difficult and unprecedented times, they continue to amaze with their endless ability to protect and care for others.

So for this Mothers Day, Sunday Star celebrates the mothers who go above and beyond for the country by fighting Covid-19 in the frontlines and essential services.

Protecting Malaysia

Duty, love of family, an appreciation of science and a strong sense of community service keeps Assoc Prof Dr Sasheela Sri La Sri Ponnampalavanar motivated while serving in the frontlines.

The Universiti Malaya Infectious Diseases Consultant is also serving as a Pandemic Preparedness and Infection Control Coordinator in University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC)’s Covid-19 task force.

“There are not many infectious disease physicians in the country and we all need to chip in to do our part during this pandemic, ” says Dr Sasheela, 48, who is also UMMC’s Head of Infection Control Department.

Dr Sasheela’s children Ishaan, Trishulan and husband Dr Vijay Ananda are very supportive of her.Dr Sasheela’s children Ishaan, Trishulan and husband Dr Vijay Ananda are very supportive of her.

Dr Sasheela voices her support for other mothers working in essential services, calling for them to remain strong.

“Don’t feel guilty that you may be neglecting your family. You are doing your best and hence, are the best example to your children on how to be diligent, humble, and not give up when faced with challenges.

“Let your family know that you appreciate their sacrifice and that you are able to do what you do because of them. They are the unsung heroes that allow us all to function during these uncertain times, ” she says.

Dr Sasheela celebrates her mother, Mrs Leelawaty Kathirasu, mother-in-law Dr Vijayaletchumi, sisters and UMMC colleagues on Mothers Day.

“Dear Amma, we hope this coronavirus ends soon so we can spend more time with you. We love you a lot. Happy Mothers Day, ” writes Dr Sasheela’s children, Ishaan and Trishulan who are both 10 and eight years old.

Dr Kathreena Kadir, 39, is also rolling up her sleeves and stepping into the frontlines against Covid-19.

The UMMC Oral & Maxillofacial (OMF) Surgery Consultant and senior lecturer serves as part of the medical center’s OMF frontliners, attending to emergency cases pertaining to oral and facial problems.

Occasionally, she performs oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal swabs at the emergency Covid-19 triage.

Dr Kathreena’s daughters’s Aryanna Kareena and Aaliya Karissa look up to their mother.Dr Kathreena’s daughters’s Aryanna Kareena and Aaliya Karissa look up to their mother.

Dr Kathreena is proud to be able to serve during this trying time, and to be part of a community that helps strengthen the nation’s health, security and economy.

“We are blessed as mothers who inevitably will become a role model to our own children, to show them that nothing is impossible if we put our mind and heart into it, ” says the mother of eight-year-old Aryanna Kareena and three-year-old Aaliya Karissa.

“Happy Mothers Day to the best mum ever! Aaliya and I love you and your omelettes so much!” says Aryanna.

Also proud to serve her country is mother of three Nurliyana Aqilah Mohamad, 31, who works in the biomedical engineering services department at the Sungai Buloh Hospital where she maintains medical equipment used by Covid-19 patients.

“My family always supports my career and they are the reason why I love doing what I do, ” she says. “When I see patients being treated with the equipment that I maintain, it is a blessing and happiness.”

She admits that it is difficult for her to leave her young children Sharifah Nurwidya Zulaikha, five; Syed Ahmad Usama, four; and Sharifah Nur Uzma, eight-months-old, during the pandemic but she is confident that they understand her responsibility.

“I know that all mothers out there that have to work and leave their children are strong enough. Keep positive as we know this is our responsibility. Always stay safe for the sake of our beloved family, ” she says.

Proud of you, mum

Every day, Angela Tan spends hours delivering cooked meals to marginalised communities, ensuring that people do not go hungry during the quarantine period.

From the beginning of the MCO, the food sustainability NGO What a Waste (WaW) co-founder and her team have fed more than 7,000 families by delivering food prepared by both homecooks and restaurants.

“The thought that someone out there will be hungry is a huge motivation for us to perform our daily food distribution missions, ” she says.

Tan, 36, has the highest admiration for all mothers working in essential services.

“As a mother of two, I can truly understand the challenge in establishing the equilibrium between the priorities of our kids and the welfare of the public. Please take care of your health and stay safe while you care for others. Please always pause for a power rest in the midst of your gruelling services, ” she advises.

Angela’s children Bella Grace, 7, Caden Jae, 5, and husband Alvin Chen are extremely proud of her.Angela’s children Bella Grace, 7, Caden Jae, 5, and husband Alvin Chen are extremely proud of her.

Tan’s husband and WaW co-founder Alvin Chen is all praises for his wife, saying that she has inspired him.

Angela’s children are also cheering her on and promised to stay home and keep safe.

“I am so proud of Mummy for feeding the poor families everyday. I want to be like Mama when I grow up. God, please protect my mummy and everyone from bad Covid-19 virus, ” says seven-year-old Bella Grace Chen.

It goes without saying that Mothers Day celebration in this new normal is far from what we are used to.

For nurse Wan Fadhilah Wan Yunus, 30, Mothers Day usually means being pampered with a special meal at a restaurant and spending the day with her three children – five-year-old Wan Ammar Farhat Ahmad Syukry, three-year-old Aisya Medina and one-year-old Adeeb Fayyadh.

This year, she not only has to forgo the Mothers Day celebration with her children, but she also has to report to work at a hospital near Kuala Lumpur.

Although it is difficult for her to leave her young children, Nurliyana is proud to serve her country. — AZHAR  MAHFOF/The StarAlthough it is difficult for her to leave her young children, Nurliyana is proud to serve her country. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

But Wan Fadhilah had a lovely surprise before she left for work yesterday when her children presented her with a special Mothers Day card that they made themselves.

“I really didn’t expect it, ” she says with a beaming smile. “My husband helped them to make the card. This is by far the sweetest Mothers Day gift that I have ever gotten!”

Dr Mawaddah Ghazali, 37, was also delighted when her eight-year-old twin daughters, Zahara and Zuleika gifted her with Mothers Day cards they made for her themselves.

“We would like to celebrate Mothers Day with Mama this Sunday. We want to get her flowers and chocolate, ” says Zuleika.

Zahara adds: “We are happy because Mama gets to help people and children. We love you Mama so much. Thank you for everything.”

Dr Mawaddah’s feels honoured to be able to contribute to the country, and her daughters’ appreciation has encouraged her further.

“I am in charge of lab testing for Covid-19. I have to make sure we do tests adequately, including tests for healthcare workers (frontliners), ” says the Senior Principal Assistant Director at the Health Ministry.

Love for mums all around

Across the country, further words of encouragement are being shared with fellow mothers working in the frontlines and essential services.

“Dear SuperMamas, let’s triumph over Covid-19. Make our sweat and tears count. Our little comrades are cheering for us from home, ” says Medical Officer Dr Fion Teo.

Medical officer Dr Vellashinee Muniandy, 35, adds: “I think every working mother would feel the same, that we are doing the unimaginable, but loving our job doesn’t make us any less of a mother.”

Family medicine specialist Dr Sathia Kanawathy says: “Mothers who are frontliners are truly heroes. Stay strong and always remember to look after your mental and physical health.”

See also: Essential service mums go above and beyond

Mothers on the front line pulling extra duty

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