'I don't want to be a burden to my mother'

'I don't want to be a burden to my mother'

Horizon Primary School pupil Alicia Choong often wished that she could join her classmates for physical education lessons.

Even her simple wish of walking down to the canteen with her friends was impossible because she uses a wheelchair.

But she never allowed her disability to diminish her determination.

Yesterday, she scored Bs and Cs in the Primary School Leaving Examination, good enough to qualify for a secondary school of her choice.

Alicia said: "I'm a little disappointed that I can't make it to the Express stream but I will work harder in secondary school."

Her form teacher, Mrs Sim Lay Hoon, who teaches her maths, is very proud of Alicia's achievement.

She said: "Her disability never hindered her learning. Instead, it pushed her to take on challenges "She was not performing in her studies earlier this year, but she never gave up and put in a lot of effort."

During Alicia's six years in primary school, her teachers and friends have watched her physical condition deteriorate slowly.

She had undergone a 12-hour operation to remove a brain tumour at the age of six. But the right-handed girl later developed problems with controlling the right side of her body.

By the time she was in Primary 4, she could no longer walk.

In school, Alicia relies on her friends to help her get around.

The school principal, Mrs Janet Ang, said: "Her classmates have been very kind and they wheel her around the school during recess."


Alicia's mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Ke, 52, admits the past few years had been difficult.

The part-time cleaner pushes Alicia to school and picks her up in the afternoon after the end of her shift at a fast food restaurant.

Between tears, she said in Mandarin: "The doctor told me there was a 95 per cent chance of recovery after the surgery and I did not expect that her condition would turn out like this. I could only focus on making sure that she got well."

Alicia's parents are separated and her mum earns about $700 a month. The girl, who has an older brother, 14, gave up tuition this year so as not to strain the family's finances.

She counts her mum as an inspiration for encouraging her despite her disability.

"I wish to get well so that I won't be a burden to my mother. I hope to be able to work in the future."

This article was first published on November 26, 2015.
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