Wednesday, Aug 05th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 02 December 2018 00:00

‘Little Mother’ Aspires to Become a Doctor

Written by  Tan Kim Hion, KL & Selangor / Translated by Lee Hui Yieng

Misshadarni (1st right) posed for a photo with her parents and sister after receiving her study grant. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]

Misshadarni a/p Tharmarajah, a Primary 6 student in 2018, again qualified to receive Tzu Chi study aid this year. Her excellent UPSR academic results belied her daily personal family hardships and heavy responsibilities she had to shoulder. She sincerely thanked Tzu Chi for the study aid, which alleviated her parents’ financial burden and instilled great confidence in her, in the pursuit of her dreams.

What is a blessing? While posing for a photograph with her family holding a white envelope containing a cash card, Misshadarni a/p Tharmarajah smiled broadly and said happily that it is her most blessed moment.

The 2017 study incentives were used to pay for school fees, purchase reference books and stationery. Misshadarni stressed that, “What mattered most was that, with the monthly cash aid, my parents did not need to worry about my education fees at all.”

Born into poverty, Misshadarni clearly understood her parents’ hardship since young. As the eldest daughter, she not only had to help with household chores but also take care of her two younger siblings.

Misshadarni recounted her daily routine, “I would wake up at 4-ish every morning to do my revision. Then at 5-ish, I would prepare breakfast and then go to school with my brother at 6-plus. After school, I would fetch my sister home from the nanny, complete household chores, take care of my younger brother and sister and give tuition to my neighbours’ children. We would have dinner after my parents come home from work.”

After dinner, she would help wash all the dishes and continue revising her studies until 11 pm before going to bed. She has no complaints over such routine, but instead, feels blessed that she can have dinner and spend time with her family every day.

Her mother, Rogini a/p Ponnudurai, always says that Misshadarni is like a “second mother” in the family. Rogini works in a coffee shop and only returns home late in the evening every day. When she returns home, she is greeted by a neat house with dinner already prepared, which warms her heart.

She shared, “Misshadarni is a loving child and even at such a young age, had shouldered a lot of responsibilities in caring for the family. When she was five years old, I had a high fever. She brought water and cleaned my face to bring down the temperature. Last year, the doctor found a small tumour in my breast that required me to be treated in hospital. She took care of her younger siblings and handled all the household chores so well that I did not have to worry.”

Rogini is thankful to have a well-behaved and thoughtful daughter which has undoubtedly allowed both husband and wife to focus on their jobs. During the year-end school break, Misshardarni even offered to take care of her little sister instead of sending her to the nanny. Rogini is also relieved that both the younger children obey their “little mother”, who would play with them and never once scolded them.

An ambition out of love for others

Misshadarni had been a student beneficiary of Tzu Chi study aid since Primary 2 – a total of 5 years. This year (2018), she qualified again to become a recipient of the study incentives with excellent Primary School Evaluation Test scores (UPSR) of five (A), two (B) and one (C).

Volunteers Lim Choy Kim and his wife, Chong Kon Khyun, who had been caring for Misshadarni, had witnessed her growing up. They were particularly impressed by her diligence and persistent efforts in her studies, despite shouldering responsibilities while her mother was at work.

Besides, Choy Kim is also touched by Misshadarni’s filial affection towards her parents and her love for her siblings. Misshadarni had been striving for excellent academic results so that she could eventually graduate as a medical doctor and treat her family.

Misshardarni’s father, 10-year-old brother and 4-year-old sister were all born with foot deformities. This means that they cannot press their feet flat on the ground, hence they need to drag their feet as they walk. Despite numerous visits to the doctors, this condition cannot be totally corrected.

Choy Kim recalled that four years ago, when Misshadarni’s sister too was diagnosed with the same congenital condition, the whole family was disheartened and saddened. At that time, he told Rogini and her husband to keep their spirits up. He realized Misshardarni too was affected by her parent’s sadness, so he encouraged Misshadarni to turn her sorrow into motivation by studying harder because only education can change her family’s future.

His sincere words inspired Misshadarni to set her mind to become a doctor, so that she can cure her family members, thereby enabling them to walk normally.

Whenever Choy Kim and Kon Khyun visited the family, they would review Misshadarni’s homework. They found that even without tuition, she did quite well in all her subjects except for Mathematics. Kon Khyun, a former Maths teacher, thus offered to coach Misshadarni in Maths and her Maths results has shown significant improvement. The volunteer couple also admired Rogini for her emphasis on the children’s education and insistence to use the study aid from Tzu Chi entirely on the children’s educational expenses.

Besides caring for the family, volunteers also brought Misshadarni’s father and her siblings to seek medical consultation from a TIMA doctor. The doctor confirmed that it was a genetic disorder and could only be treated with physical therapy and by wearing specially-made shoes to prevent it from worsening. Even though there is no cure currently, Misshadarni and her mother are grateful to the volunteer couple for their extensive help. This has made Misshadarni realize it is a great blessing to be able to help others, and motivated her to aspire to help others too.

A little tutor in the neighbourhood

“I would help my peers in their studies, and since June this year (2018), I also started tutoring children living in my neighbourhood.” Misshadarni explained that her neighbours had requested for her assistance in coaching their children based on her good academic performance. Some of these parents are single mothers or are financially unable to send their children for tuition.

A compassionate Misshadarni does not mind not being paid for giving tuition. Her simple philosophy is that it helps her to revise when she teaches others. Additionally, she was delighted to see her students’ improved academic performance after a few months of tuition.

Misshadarni shared that when she becomes a doctor, not only does she want to help her family and treat the poor for free, she also wants to volunteer with Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) so as to help more people.

Rogini was concerned for her daughter, as being a doctor would be too demanding for her. She suggested becoming a teacher instead, to nurture future minds and talents. But Misshadarni shook her head and replied firmly, “My first and second ambition is to become a doctor.”

When everyone asked what her third ambition is, Misshadarni said, “If I fail to achieve the first two ambitions, then I would want to be an air stewardess. This way, I can still serve people and visit various places around the world and expand my horizons at the same time.” But as soon as she finished speaking, she quickly corrected herself and said that there would be no third ambition because all she wants is to become a doctor. Everyone present smiled, acknowledging her great determination and single-minded ambition of becoming a doctor.

In order to reward Misshadarni for her good grades, Choy Kim presented to her a special edition of Jing Si Aphorisms in four languages (Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil) and a colourful and cute hand-made handbag for her.

Misshadarni and her mother love reading the Jing Si Aphorisms, which is full of Master Cheng Yen’s wisdom. Her mother reminded her to appreciate Master’s book of wise sayings, while Choy Kim advised Misshadarni to read the book especially when she encounters problems, for she may be able to find answers in it.

Misshadarni is grateful and overjoyed for the meaningful gift and the love and care from Choy Kim and his wife. She promised to pursue her dreams bravely now that she sees hope ahead and a heart full of confidence.


Volunteer Chong Kon Khyun gave Misshadarni free tuition in Mathematics. [Photograph by Chia Aai Hoon]   Volunteer Lim Choy Kim (right) and his wife, Chong Kon Khyun, presented a special edition Jing Si Aphorism and a handmade handbag to Misshadarni to encourage her to continue striving in her studies. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Volunteer Chong Kon Khyun gave Misshadarni free tuition in Mathematics. [Photograph by Chia Aai Hoon]
Volunteer Lim Choy Kim (right) and his wife, Chong Kon Khyun, presented a special edition Jing Si Aphorism and a handmade handbag to Misshadarni to encourage her to continue striving in her studies. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
Misshadarni (right) and her mother, Rogini (left), read the Jing Si Aphorisms together. Rogini advised her daughter to appreciate the good book filled with wisdom. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Misshadarni (right) and her mother, Rogini (left), read the Jing Si Aphorisms together. Rogini advised her daughter to appreciate the good book filled with wisdom. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]