Life has been challenging for Mdm Nuraini Mohd Noor. She manages her household while caring for three children with disabilities. Fortunately, she has the support of her husband and her 26-year-old daughter, who still visits to help Mdm Nuraini even though she has gotten married and moved out. The Singapore Red Cross - FairPrice Meals with Love programme eases the family's financial burden by providing them with supermarket vouchers for their meals and daily essentials.
Life has been a constant struggle for Mdm Nuraini Mohd Noor and her family. For the past 28 years, Mdm Nuraini, 54, has been taking care of her household while caring for her children, three of whom have disabilities.
Caring for Children with Disabilities
Her eldest son, Ahmad Fahmi, 29, has epilepsy and an intellectual disability.
Expressing her concern over her son’s condition, Mdm Nuraini said, "I still remember when my son first experienced symptoms of his condition. I panicked because he was breathless. His face was blue and his heart stopped for a while. I quickly rushed him to the hospital."
Ahmad's diagnosis marked the beginning of the family's challenges. The family was struck with more misfortune when Mdm Nuraini's second son and youngest daughter were also diagnosed with epilepsy.
"I was very sad when I found out. I asked the doctor why, not one but three out of four of my children have this condition. But they could not answer me as none of them knew why," said Mdm Nuraini.
Sharing the Caregiving Responsibilities
As Mdm Nuraini’s husband works to support the family, Mdm Nuraini is the primary caregiver for her three children with disabilities. She also took care of her mother, who has dementia and used to live with her, although her mother has since moved away.
"It has been really hard for me because I am the only caregiver at home when my husband goes to work," Mdm Nuraini said.
The tremendous caregiving responsibilities have taken a toll on Mdm Nuraini, who often feels physically overwhelmed.
"Sometimes, it is very hard for me to go out because I have to care for my children. It is very tiring. I often feel frustrated because I have already been through so much," she said.
The only time Mdm Nuraini has some respite is when Ahmad goes to the Red Cross Day Activity Centre (DAC) for the Disabled at Jurong West on weekday mornings and afternoons. At the DAC, Ahmad engages in physical, creative and social activities that enhance his well-being and independence. Ahmad returns home in the evenings.
Mdm Nuraini's husband also helps to ease Mdm Nuraini’s burden. After returning home from work, he would help her to shower the children with disabilities, and ensure they have taken their medication. Their daughter, Naqiyah Yusuf, 26, who is already married with a son, lives apart from the family but still makes an effort to visit and care for her siblings.
"It is very tiring for me to look after my siblings, in addition to caring for my son, but I still do it because I love my siblings," said Naqiyah, who used to work as a nurse.
Likewise, Mdm Nuraini’s love for her family spurs her to persevere despite the challenges.
"I just have to accept this situation I am in. My children are just gifted in another way," she said.
Struggling to Make Ends Meet
On top of dealing with caregiver fatigue, Mdm Nuraini's family struggles to make ends meet even with her husband's income. Due to her children's medical conditions, a substantial proportion of the family's income is channelled towards medical bills, diapers, and milk.
Fortunately, since enrolling in the Singapore Red Cross FairPrice Meals with Love programme, Mdm Nuraini's family receives $150 worth of supermarket vouchers monthly.
"The vouchers really help because diapers and milk are very expensive. The vouchers ease our family's financial burden and make our lives a lot easier," Mdm Nuraini said.
The story of Mdm Nuraini's family bears testimony to their strength, tenacity, and resilience in staying united as a family in the face of adversity. The compassion and magnanimity of SRC partners, such as FairPrice Foundation, have gone a long way to uplift and brighten their lives. FairPrice Foundation's unwavering support serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration, encouraging others to emulate their compassion and contribute to the creation of a kinder and more empathetic society.
Apart from Mdm Nuraini's family, Singapore Red Cross - FairPrice Meals with Love programme eases the financial burdens of families that face challenging circumstances, and struggle to make ends meet and provide food for their families.
We thank FairPrice Foundation for supporting the Singapore Red Cross' Meals with Love programme with a commitment of $1.2 million over three years from 2022 to 2024.
Re-written and adapted from 'A Mother's Unconditional Love for her Children' by Jasia Shamdasani, Republic Polytechnic’s Diploma in Mass Communication