35 Years 35 Stories
Yap Khen Siong
The reason for the start of our special needs ministry, the voice & face of Malaysian Care since 1994
“Will you take my little boy in?” I’m thankful to Malaysian Care for responding to this plea of my mom in the hospital bed during the last stages of cancer. To me, Malaysian Care is a place where shattered lives are being restored, a home where people like me can get support, understanding and long-term help.
After my mom’s death and a short stay with relatives, Rumah Rahmat*, Malaysian Care’s home for the very special people (physically disabled), become my home. I was 7 plus then and started schooling at 8 years old. I grew up there and eventually became Malaysian Care’s receptionist, the job that I hold till now. I’m now 41.
With spastic cerebral palsy (Quadriplegia) since infancy or birth (I’m not even sure when) means all my four limbs are affected, making me wheelchair bound for life. However, I didn’t realise that I was ‘different’ until I started going to school. The feeling of being left alone in the classroom during Physical Education (PE) lesson was beyond description. This feeling of being alone continues to be a big part of my life till today. Very few people can understand this feeling but Jesus understands it well as He too has been there. He was all alone in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. He understands what I’m going through.
There are a few persons whom I want to give special tribute to. Mrs. Laang, my Standard 1 teacher who was so patient with me, propping me up every time I slipped down the chair and helping me to hold a pencil. At that time, I couldn’t sit up on a chair or grip a pencil. She was so patient and loving to me, a teacher whom I respect for life. Peter and Betty Young, for visiting my mom in the hospital and taking me in. Christine Foo (Rumah Rahmat staff), for guiding me since childhood. Serene Wong, for teaching me living skills. Wong Kim Kong, for his guidance, fetching me to the hospital when I was very ill and friendship till today.
There has been a lot of disappointment in my life. People don’t understand my condition and there are not many people whom I can talk to. Not all my colleagues understand me and I don’t expect them to as it is physically and emotionally challenging. I often feel lost, don’t know what to do and experience emotional numbness. Going out, joining social activities is very challenging and burdensome to others. Often, I choose to stay out as I do not want to be a burden to others.
Of course, there are also happy moments in my life. The young adults with special needs (learning difficulty) at Malaysian Care are my constant source of joy. They are always happy, simple-minded and have such positive outlook of life. They are my friends and they show concern for me.
My greatest joy is seeing needy children finding help. I was happy to be able to place four children of a broken family in a Christian home two years ago. This case resurfaced recently, and the remaining children of the family (the eldest and the youngest who is still baby) are now in another Christian home.
No matter how tough life may be, I believe God will make a way. Don’t give up, don’t complain but trust that God will pull us through.
* Rumah Rahmat has since been discontinued and our current special needs ministry focuses mainly on people with learning difficulties.