MH17 victim's family receives a boost in life

PUTRAJAYA - Three months after the tragedy that claimed the life of MH17's first officer Ahmad Hakimi Hanapi, his wife and one-year-old son are starting a new chapter in their lives with the opening of their new Boost Juice franchise in D'Pulze, Cyberjaya on Wednesday.

"My husband expressed his wish to open a restaurant before he passed away and he suggested we start with something smaller first," said Asmaa Aljuned, the wife of Hakimi, or Kimi as he was better known to friends.

Before 29-year-old Ahmad Hakimi's death, Asmaa was a stay-at-home mother. The Boost Juice franchise was to be a re-introduction for Asmaa into the working world after taking time off to care for her son.

"I forked out all my savings to start the business. My father chipped in and Kimi also helped out," she said.

Asmaa explained that the juice bar franchise provided a simple, easy and effective solution for increasingly health-conscious Malaysians.

With the franchise agreement signed, Asmaa planned to sign her loan offer letter on Friday, Oct 18, the day Kimi was supposed to arrive home from Amsterdam.

However, the downing of MH17 put all plans on the back burner.

"When it happened, I only had RM400 in my bank account. I only had a few RM1 notes lying around and Kimi had left RM50 in a drawer. That was all the money I had in the world as I had used all my savings for the down payment," said Asmaa.

"Even though I was short on capital, Alhamdulillah, help came. Kimi's friends, my friends, family and members of the Malaysia Airlines Pilots' Association (MAPA) gave contributions, so there was enough for us," said Asmaa.

Asmaa and Abderrahman even received anonymous donations from concerned members of the public who banked in aid straight to their bank account, said a grateful Asmaa.

"Kimi was very close to Abderrahman. Then one day, Kimi went for work and never came back. I think it really affected him. Abderrahman clings to me all the time now," she said.

Even during the interview, Abderrahman would cry and reach out for his mother every time he thought Asmaa was leaving the room.

"It's fine if he is distracted, but when he sees me going somewhere, it will frighten him. He will even pull at my clothes so that I won't leave," said Asmaa.

"He is more attached to men, especially if they look like Kimi. If he sees someone who looks like a pilot, he will point and want to go to that person.

"If he sees my cousins who have a similar built and height to Kimi, he will be attached to them. Recently, when my cousin visited, Abderrahman wanted to follow my cousin home! He didn't want me at all," said Asmaa with a laugh.

"I have a few voice recordings of Kimi and when I play them, Abderrahman will stop and listen. If I switch on a video of Kimi, Abderrahman will just stare at it. A few times, he even kissed the video," she said.

For most part, Asmaa said Abderrahman was a happy and cheerful boy.

"The one thing I've told myself is not to cry in front of Abderrahman. He is my strength and the reason I pick myself up," she said.

Asmaa's focus is now on her business so she can be self-sufficient and able to care for Abderrahman.

She also expressed her appreciation for all who supported her when she was at her lowest, including family, friends, Malaysia Airlines and representatives from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

"I truly felt that MAS has helped me, my family and Kimi's family in many ways. As much as we lost, they have lost too - not only two aircrafts but also family," she said.