DUNGUN: The smile she gave a guest who arrived at her home belied the years of hardship she has gone through.
Azizah Bakar, 70, has persevered in raising 12 children, six of whom were born with disabilities.
To her, it is a test from Allah.
And Azizah has plenty of bittersweet memories to share about her six special children: 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, have not been able to 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 was 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, ” she said.
Despite being not as physically strong as she used to be, Azizah is determined to take care of her special needs children until she dies.
“Since they were little, they have never been apart from me. 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 added.
Azizah said she really had to struggle during the early years when the children were still small.
Back then, she said, there was no welfare aid and the family depended on her husband Kamaludin Embong’s income as a village head.
“Life was really hard. Sometimes, we 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.
Since 10 years ago, she said, her special children had been getting RM300 monthly allowance from the Welfare Department.
Azizah admitted that she once felt ashamed and did not want to mingle with others who were scornful towards them.
Some of them asked her why she had so many disabled children “but now I am grateful and proud to have been able to raise them well”.
Despite being born with disabilities, she said, most of them could take care of themselves and they also help each other as well as help her with the housework.
Her Mother’s Day message to other women, especially those with special needs children, is to always be patient, love and appreciate them.
“We need to have a strong spirit and take care of them with love. The children do not understand everything but 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. — Bernama