Mum gone, she took in abandoned baby
Madam Suriani Muhamed Ishak was already a mother of five when she received a call from her husband one day asking if she wanted another one.
The SMRT employee had heard from a cleaner that a young woman had given birth to a baby on board a bus heading to Malaysia.
He told Madam Suriani that he did not mind another child.
"I thought he was joking," she said.
But when Madam Suriani, who works as a nurse, saw the baby in hospital, she had a change of heart, she told The New Paper.
“I was just overwhelmed with a sense of pity, I wanted to help to make sure that she gets the best care,” she said.
“I was ready to take care of the baby so that the birth mother could settle whatever personal problems she had and be in a better position to take care of her child,” she added.
“The baby’s mother was a Malaysian cleaner who had given birth on a bus that was heading from Johor Bahru to Singapore,” she said in an interview with Berita Harian.
Madam Suriani, a nurse clinician at the neurosurgery department of Singapore General Hospital (SGH), said she was moved to give her unstinting care to the baby.
Madam Suriani, whose five children are aged between six and 22, took care of the baby, bringing her for medical check-ups and doctor’s appointments, paying for these out of her own pockets.
In a bid to get the birth mother to assume responsibility and take care of her own child, she invited the baby’s mother to visit her baby at her flat in Jurong.
She also extended financial help to the mother so that she was able to make a passport and a birth certificate for the baby.
For her contributions, Madam Suriani was honoured by the National Healthcare Group at its Healthcare Humanity Awards 2016 on May 6.
Madam Suriani received a $1,500 cheque and a medal.
Dr Tracy Carol Ayre, Chief Nurse at SGH, said Madam Suriani was nominated for the award because she “represents the epitome of our core mission, which is to provide compassionate care for the community”.
Unfortunately, the baby’s mother eventually disappeared.
According to Madam Suriani, the baby's mother visited her baby less than five times in the two years she was taking care of the baby.
Eventually, when it became clear that the baby's real mother was not going to look after the girl, Madam Suriani was forced to ask social workers for help.
Through the social worker’s help and the help of the Malaysian embassy, they were able to track down the mother.
She was persuaded to return to Singapore to settle administrative matters relating to giving up the baby for adoption by a different family.
Why did Madam Suriani not adopt the baby herself?
"I wanted to make sure that the baby was given a good family who could devote their time to taking care of her and who was able to give her the best chance that she can get," she told TNP.