Setting a Positive Example for His Child

Mohamad Fahmi (not his real name), 43, used to be an outgoing person with a stable career. But his world came crashing down when his right leg was amputated in 2016 and he plunged into depression for two years. Fortunately, with the support of his family and friends, he emerged from his emotional turmoil. 

A dedicated family man, Fahmi works tirelessly as a night shift security officer to provide for his wife, Nylea Daanya (not her real name), and son, Mohamad Khairul (not his real name), who is diagnosed with autism. The Singapore Red Cross Family LifeAid programme supports Fahmi and his family with monthly supermarket vouchers to alleviate their financial burden. As we commemorate Father's Day, we pay tribute to fathers who make countless sacrifices for their families, and strive to be role models for their children, exemplifying how they can positively contribute to society.

Childhood with Responsibilities

The youngest of three children, Mohamad Fahmi Bin Zainal spent his younger days with his late father,  Zainal Bin Malik, and two sisters at the shop his father manned. As they stocked shelves, packed, and engaged in grocery delivery services to customers in the vicinity, Fahmi forged a close rapport with his siblings. He maintains closely knitted familial ties with his siblings till today. 

Fahmi speaks fondly of his late father, who passed away in 2002. Zainal had introduced Fahmi and his siblings to volunteerism since young. Zainal would rope in Fahmi and his siblings to volunteer at the Masjid Alkaff Kg Melayu mosque, as their way of contributing to society. They would help to set up events, collect donations for the mosque, and donate food. 

Fahmi's several cherished memories were interwoven into the tapestry of his life. 

“Memories, we have many memories,” Fahmi, now aged 43, said as he recounted his childhood with a tinge of nostalgia.

Shattered Dreams

Following his graduation with a Nitec in Chemical Process Technology in 2002 from ITE Bukit Batok and a Diploma in Food & Beverage from The City & Guilds of London Institute in 2004, Fahmi worked as a manager in a restaurant. He forged a close rapport with his colleagues, lending a listening ear to those who came to him for advice. His life seemed smooth sailing, and his prospects looked promising.

But life had other plans for him. Fahmi was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010. His world came crashing down when he underwent an amputation of his right leg (below the knee) in 2016. His immobility hampered his ability to live independently, much less continue working. 

Beyond the physical challenges, Fahmi battled with depression for two years. He grappled to accept the reality that his dreams, aspirations, and future were shattered. 

"I felt helpless when I was using the wheelchair. I plunged into depression because a major part of my body was amputated. I used to be very outgoing. I was indignant, as my ambitions and aspirations for my career were abruptly halted. As my prospects turned bleak and uncertain, I was plagued by worries and concerns," said Fahmi. 

Fortunately, with the immense emotional and motivational support of his family and friends, Fahmi successfully navigated a labyrinth of emotions, conquered his depression, and triumphed. 

"My family and friends were my pillar of support. They helped me navigate my emotional turmoil and motivated me to be strong. They gave me hope, the inner strength and courage to move on from the setback. The employees and fellow amputees at the Foot and Limb centre also lent their encouragement and support," said Fahmi. 

In 2017, he received his prosthetic leg (below the knee).

"Occasionally, I would feel sad as the prosthetic leg reminded me of my normal leg. But I also felt better that I could move around more independently and not have people casting sympathetic glances at me, which was the case when I was in a wheelchair," he said.

Grappling with Another Setback

Fahmi first met his wife, Nylea Daanya, an Indonesian, in 2013 through his friend while she visited Singapore from Indonesia. Fahmi and Nylea tied the knot in 2018. That year, the couple welcomed their son Khairul bin Mohamad Fahmi into their family. They lived in a rental flat in Singapore. But their happiness was short-lived. 

In 2021, when Khairul was three, he had difficulty responding to his name.

"He does not maintain eye contact. He also enjoyed engaging in activities that were repetitive. Khairul was diagnosed with autism that year. It was heart-wrenching. I was concerned about Khairul's future as I have some disability and am unable to care for Khairul," said Fahmi. 

With Fahmi's condition, and as Nylea is not conversant in English, Nylea took on the role of Khairul's full-time caregiver.  


From 2021 to the end of 2023, Khairul attended the Asian Women Welfare Association's (AWWA) school for the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children and a private Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABBA) session twice weekly in Singapore. However, the school fees made it economically untenable for Fahmi's family for the long term.

Since the end of 2023, Khairul has been attending the Yamet Child Development Centre Nagoya, in Indonesia, as the fees are more affordable than in Singapore. Just as in Singapore, Nylea continued caring for Khairul full-time in Indonesia. 

Despite the stumbling blocks he faced in commuting with a prosthetic leg, Fahmi was tenacious and resolute about securing a stable job so he could take on the role of the sole breadwinner of the family. 

Hobbling about with a prosthetic leg stymied his progress, but not his grit. Undeterred, Fahmi forged ahead with an indomitable spirit and resilience, and eventually secured work two months ago as a security officer. This enables him to provide monetarily for his family. 

A Father’s Love

As Fahmi works from 8 pm to 8 am, the odd hours meant little time for interaction together as a family. He sets off for work at 6:30 pm, travelling 1.5 hours by public transport to start his 12-hour shift six days a week. Often, his amputated leg hurts. He also sustained cuts due to prolonged standing and walking.  

“I do my best for my son. I do not want my son to undergo the same hardship as I did,” he reiterates.

Fahmi treasures the time when Nylea and Khairul return to Singapore monthly, and stay with him for a few days at each visit. They would go on family outings to the beach or parks.

With the bulk of Fahmi’s salary expended on putting food on the table, he was adamant about not utilising his sick leave, even when he was ill, as “No work means no salary.” 

Apart from providing for his family monetarily, his high blood pressure medication and Khairul’s medical bills also constitute a significant portion of Fahmi's remuneration. Without much disposable income, Fahmi makes the best of pre-loved clothes and toys for his son.  

Silver Lining Behind the Clouds

Thankfully, a Family Service Centre introduced Fahmi to the Singapore Red Cross’ Meals with Love programme. The supermarket vouchers sustain the family’s needs for two weeks. These alleviate Fahmi’s financial burden, and he no longer compels himself to work when ill. 

“I would like to thank the Singapore Red Cross as the supermarket vouchers enable me to buy what my family needs most,” Fahmi said with immense gratitude for the financial support his family receives.

Coming a Full Circle

Appreciative of the support he receives, he is currently exploring different volunteering options with his social worker to give back to the community. 

“Volunteerism is something I hold close to my heart. Even though my dad was not well-to-do, he would still dedicate some time to volunteering. I want to follow in his footsteps. Through volunteering, I can make people smile, just as my father did. I hope to impart the spirit of volunteering to my son,” said Fahmi with gratitude.

Despite life's tribulations, Fahmi's tenacity and fortitude in the face of adversity shone through his tireless labour of love for his family, and his drive to contribute back to society.

As we commemorate Father's Day, we pay tribute to fathers like him, who make countless sacrifices for the sake of their families and serve as role models for their children to do good in society. 

By Natalie Tan, Volunteer
Copyedited by Jolynn Lee, Volunteer and Sondra Foo, Marketing & Communications

Contribute monetarily to the Grateful Hearts Day campaign, which fundraises for the local humanitarian services of the Singapore Red Cross, including the Meals with Love programme.