SINGAPORE – Alya Insyirah Norhisham was just two years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a form of blood cancer that left her unable to walk after treatment weakened her bone marrow.
The girl, now seven, was born with Down syndrome and a hole in her heart. Her heart condition worsened while she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
“We were flooded with medical bills,” said her mother, Madam Sharifah Shahariyah.
Alya’s motor neurons were also severely affected by chemotherapy and she needed a leg brace to walk. She now uses a special supportive insole that helps her walk better, although her parents have been told that she will likely not be able to walk in the future.
Alya goes to the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds) Fernvale Gardens School, where she also receives physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles she needs for walking.
Today, her cancer is in remission, and she continues her cardiology appointments and physiotherapy with the help of charity Ain Society, which provides cancer support services.
She is among 420 beneficiaries of Ain Society, which gives her family monthly disbursements to help with medical bills, therapy, utilities and phone bills.
“I felt blessed to have found Ain (Society); it really helped to lessen my burdens,” said Madam Sharifah, 45.
She said her daughter’s leukaemia and Down syndrome was a “double job” for her.
“I was affected, but I can’t say I’m sad because any bad energy that comes her way, the little girl will feel it. So I try to be happy and spread good vibes to her,” said the housewife.
Her husband is a Singapore Airlines technician, whose income was affected by the pandemic. They also have a 12-year-old son.
Another beneficiary of the charity is Madam Kahironbe Mirah Mohideen, 57, who has cervical cancer.
Madam Kahironbe, who is single, was declared permanently unfit for work due to nerve damage in her brain.
Since 2016, Ain Society has assisted with food, transport and medical expenses for her, as well as her younger sister and her adopted daughter, who also have serious medical conditions.
The charity started a Covid-19 relief fund in April last year to help beneficiaries who have been infected with the virus and require immediate financial assistance.
Madam Sharifah’s family received help with their grocery and food expenses from this fund when all four of them tested positive for Covid-19 in September last year.
The fund has disbursed almost the full amount of $120,000 it set aside for beneficiaries, and will raise the sum to $150,000 next year to help a projected 500 beneficiaries.
On Thursday (Dec 16), the charity was presented with a cheque of $30,000 by the Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore (MCAS) for the fund.
Said MCAS president Muhammad Imran Kuna: “We want to not just raise funds for our own beneficiaries, but also help our fellow non-governmental organisations reach their targets.”
Ain Society president Abdul Malek said: “We are very thankful that other non-profit organisations are willing to come and help as we believe it is important for non-profits to work together and support one another, especially during this time of need.”
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