By PRETHIBA ESVARY
Before putting it into the box, the pencil maker said to the pencil: “In order to become great, you need to keep in mind these five things:
- You need to let others hold you so you can do great things
- You will undergo the painful process of sharpening, but you need it to be better
- You are able to correct any mistake you make
- What’s inside you is what matters most
- No matter what happens, keep writing”
The above was shared by Human Resources Ministry (MOHR) labour standards director Rahmat Ismail, who was present as a volunteer for the last Skim Latihan 1Malaysia (SL1M) roadshow held in Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Tanjung Malim, Perak.
We were fortunate enough to meet with three outstanding individuals who serve to remind us of the validity of the five points mentioned, and that no disability or marginalisation can stop one from achieving success in life.
These are their stories.
Aida Fazira Mohamad Alias @ Ayit, 23
Born with syndactyly and no legs, life wasn’t always easy for Aida.
Aside from attracting unwanted looks from strangers, she also has to make do with the lack of disabled-friendly facilities in some places, and this makes moving around difficult for her.
When her father passed away when she was three, Aida’s mother was left to take care of her and her eight siblings.
Speaking to us recently, Aida revealed that her mother is everything to her.
When the time came for Aida to pursue her tertiary education, her mother was reluctant to let her go, out of fear and worry.
Aida admits: “It was scary at first because I’ve never had to be away from my mother.
But Aida remained strong, knowing that her mother was there (a phone call away) as her pillar of support.
Have good support
When Aida joined Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Perak to study graphic design, she wondered if she would make any friends, because of her condition.
She says: “But thank God, I made some really good friends who have been with me since my diploma years until degree.”
Her hard work and perseverance proved fruitful when she landed an internship with Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB).
It was here that Aida got her first taste of what the working world was like. She says: “I learnt how to communicate with clients and so much more.
“Plus, the team I worked with was patient with me.”
Never give up
When Aida’s mother unexpectedly died in a car accident some time before Hari Raya last year, she almost lost all hope.
Trying to stop herself from crying, Aida says: “Since I was young, she was there for me.”
Not letting her grief stop her, Aida managed to complete her studies this year and has already submitted job applications and attended several interviews at the SL1M roadshow in Perak.
“It doesn’t matter whether I get it or not. I just wanted to give it a try,” she says.
Azhar Ibrahim, 34
Azhar was born without eyesight. Yet, here is what’s astounding about this young man – despite his blindness, he runs his own workshop, where he repairs motorcycles himself.
Azhar says: “Since I was young, I have always had an interest in the sounds produced by engines.
“When I hear a particular humming or grinding sound from a motorcycle engine, I feel uneasy and will work on fixing it till the engine is smooth again.”
Here’s an interesting bit: Despite having no formal education, Azhar only took two months to learn about the different parts of a motorcycle and how to repair it, and that too, all on his own.
In addition to fixing motorcycles, he also teaches children how to play the rebana or Malay traditional hand drum. He says one of the reasons he does this is so he can avoid being idle.
Make the most of what you have
Azhar has been a mechanic for close to six years now. Recently, with the aid of Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), he opened his own motorcycle workshop within the premises of his home. The MOHR also stepped in to help by providing him the necessary equipment.
Azhar says he has about 10 loyal customers and receives three to four customers a week.
When we asked if his income is enough, he says: “As long as I am able to eat and drink, it’s enough. The rest do not matter. I do this not because I want to be rich. I just want to continue with my life.”
One of the biggest challenges Azhar faces today is getting materials or spare parts. This is because he needs the help of friends to navigate his way in unfamiliar locations, such as shops for spare parts.
His outlook on graduates
When asked about why he chose to give a talk at this roadshow in Perak, he says: “I feel sad for some of these students because they are able to see and read, but they are lazy. They waste their time lepaking (spending time doing nothing useful). For me, that’s a loss.”
His parting advice is this: “We must remember our trying times even once we are out of it. If we don’t, we will forget ourselves (lose our humility).”
Nazra Basir, 28
Nazra belongs to the Jakun tribe of the Orang Asli community in Pahang.
He admits: “When I got accepted into university, life was challenging at first, because I was the only Orang Asli student.”
But when he realised that the students and lecturers actually didn’t care that he was an Orang Asli, his fears dissipated.
He says: “Through group discussions and assignments, my relationship with other students strengthened. Until today, some of us are still in touch.”
Learning to mingle with students of other races in school and university, not only opened up Nazra’s mind, but also enhanced his communication skills.
Challenges in the business world
Nazra’s first real experience in business was when he began selling packed food with some of his Malay friends at university.
After some time of doing sales and multi-level marketing, Nazra decided it was time to open his own business. And so in 2016, he started his own company, Aura Asli Enterprises, which sells natural products made of agarwood, such as perfumes.
Why agarwood? Apart from the fact that it is precious to the Orang Asli community, Nazra believes that it has a lot of business potential.
He explains that he would travel to different parts of Malaysia to enter various exhibitions as a means to get his brand out there and to promote and sell his products.
He says: “At times, I had to sleep in my car near a petrol station or bus stop, because I was so tired and some of the exhibition centres were far.”
Today, a year after his business started, Nazra says he has customers from all over Malaysia. In fact, visiting Singaporeans love his product.
Advice to youth
Aside from running his business, Nazra also gives motivational talks to the Orang Asli youths. The SL1M roadshow in Perak was the first time Nazra spoke to youths of different races.
He says: “My advice to them (graduates) is that they shouldn’t be picky. In the current economy, we need to grab the opportunities in front of us.”
In a nutshell
The three stories above depict that no matter what background, ability or disability we have, we can achieve success – as long as we put in effort, grab the opportunities in front of us, and persevere.
If a girl with no legs, a man with no eyesight and a man from a marginalised community made it today despite their challenges, so can everyone else. It’s a matter of whether we want to take action today or not.
You may also like: SL1M: Graduated With A PhD But Jobless? Here’s Why
Skim Latihan 1Malaysia (SL1M) is a programme targeted to unemployed and underemployed graduates. It is a programme under the purview of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) under the Prime Minister’s Department and is done in collaboration with GLCs and private corporations. For more information on SL1M, visit https://sl1m.my/. For success stories from SL1M, visit their Youtube page ‘SL1M Official’.
Prethiba is passionate about impacting people through the written word. She believes that our lives are solely written by us, and thus the power to change for the better lies with us.