He finally walks - after 16 years

Huzairul with dad Hussman, younger brother Amirul and mum Zainon Arshad enjoying their bonding time at the void deck.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Like any other mother, Madam Zainon Arshad was ecstatic to see her son's first steps.

Except that her son, Huzairul Izwan, is 16 years old and managed it only recently.

Huzairul suffers from cerebral palsy, a condition that affects his motor skills, and he had to move around in a wheelchair.

It was a poignant moment for Madam Zainon, who is in a wheelchair herself because her legs were amputated due to gangrene five years ago.

She has been suffering from diabetes for 30 years and was diagnosed with kidney failure five years ago.

"It was my dream to see him walk, and it came true," said Madam Zainon, 48, a housewife.

Huzairul was a premature baby and the couple's second child. But they thought everything was fine until he came down with a high fever when he was just six months old.

Madam Zainon said: "After six months, he got fits. So I took him to the hospital for a check-up, and the doctor said he had brain damage."

And then came the diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

The years that followed have been difficult ones. Madam Zainon told The New Paper that finances have been tight.

She said: "It's very difficult to handle. We have three children to take care of, one of whom has special needs. We also have to pay for my dialysis appointments and Huzairul's school fees as well."

Their father, Mr Hussman Abdul Bakar, 52, is the sole breadwinner.

He is an administrative assistant and takes home $1,800 a month. Madam Zainon supplements this by baking for friends and family.


They have subsidies and receive assistance with the health bills and school fees.

Madam Zainon said that despite all this, she has never felt pain over Huzairul's condition.

She said: "I love him so much, he's my son no matter what. This is what God gave me and I accept that."

Huzairul's school fees at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore School (CPASS) are subsidised so they pay only about $200 a month.

Things got harder when Madam Zainon had her legs amputated five years ago due to gangrene after she was diagnosed with kidney failure.

They had to hire a helper as she was unable to take care of Huzairul due to her condition.

Their situation improved earlier this year when Madam Zainon saw a post on Facebook about the Rifton Pacer gait trainer that could help Huzairul walk.

She said: "I showed it to the president of the Muslim Kidney Action Association, Mr Ameerali Abdeali. I said it was very expensive and that I couldn't afford it.

"But Mr Ameerali told me they would ask for donations. I didn't expect them to raise the money within two days."

The Muslim Kidney Action Association (MKAC) got the gait trainer in March and gifted it to Madam Zainon and Huzairul.

With the gait trainer, Huzairul has been able to move around the house by himself.

And Madam Zainon told The New Paper he has been much happier since receiving the gait trainer.

She said: "He loves to walk. You can see how happy he is whenever he uses it.

"Sometimes, he even uses it to stand while watching TV in the evenings."

The family can now make trips to the void deck, which they enjoy very much.

They spend almost an hour there watching Huzairul move around.

The void deck gives him enough space to move around in his gait trainer.

But Mr Hussman or older brother Hairul Amirin, 18, are on hand to push the trainer around when needed.

It has evolved into a family bonding session.

Madam Zainon said: "Huzairul loves coming down to play. It's a form of exercise for him because it helps to strengthen his leg muscles.

"Sometimes, he would even point his finger downwards, a way of telling us he wants to go downstairs."

She added: "It's tiring, but never mind. You can see how happy Huzairul is when he's on his walker.

"This is our family bonding time. It's under the block, but I don't care because we're spending time together."


This article was first published on June 15, 2016.
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