Community comes together to help family with young kids after dad suffers stroke
Grab kakis, community leaders and MSF rally around family of victim, 45, who remains in hospital
She always tried her best to stay up and wait for her husband to return home from work, and Madam Nor Fadzilah was battling sleep that fateful Thursday morning of May 20 when he walked into their Yishun flat at 3am after a 12-hour shift.
As Mr Sham Laser, a Grab driver and GrabFood delivery man for five years, prepared for bed, Madam Fadzilah noticed that he seemed drained and more exhausted than usual, but she did not think too much of it.
Mr Sham, 45, stayed in bed longer than usual, sleeping the entire day.
Speaking to The New Paper recently, Madam Fadzilah, 40, said: "My husband just kept sleeping. When I asked if he was okay, he couldn't really answer properly at first but then said he was tired. I didn't think it was anything serious.
"The following morning (Friday), he couldn't stand up on his own and kept falling to the side. That was when I realised something was really wrong."
A frantic Madam Fadzilah called for an ambulance and Mr Sham was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).
He had suffered a stroke.
Madam Fadzilah, a housewife, said: "He fell into a coma that day. The doctors said he had a blood clot on the left side of his brain, which led to a stroke.
"I remember the shock, it was as though my whole world had fallen apart."
Her husband, the sole breadwinner in the family, came out of the coma on May 31, but he remains in critical condition at KTPH.
Having to care for three children, aged seven, nine and 11, Madam Fadzilah initially did not know where to turn for help, especially with her husband's medical expenses.
"The doctors said they still need to observe his condition, so I am not sure how long he will be hospitalised. I only know the estimated bill is around $18,000," she added.
Hearing of her plight, her husband's colleagues and the community rallied around the family.
Mr Sham's fellow Grab drivers helped Madam Fadzilah organise a campaign on Give.asia from May 26 to 28 and managed to meet the $20,000 target.
MP for Nee Soon GRC Derrick Goh and grassroots leaders at Nee Soon Link division helped arrange for food aid vouchers and provided financial support through the North West Emergency Relief Fund.
The family, who lives in a rental flat, is also receiving help through the Utilities Assistance Scheme.
Said Mr Goh: "Beyond the immediate help that we have extended to Madam Fadzilah, we will be there to support the family in the long-term. For instance, we will assist her with job opportunities as she has expressed the desire to work, further down the road."
"It is heartening not just to see how optimistic Madam Fadzilah has been during this challenging time, but I am also touched by Mr Sham's Grab kakis along with Singaporeans from all walks of life who have reached out to help the family financially.
"Our community truly has a heart for those in need."
Mr Muhammad Syahid, 35, a security guard who has known Mr Sham for more than four years, said he was grateful to all those who donated to help his friend.
Mr Syahid, who was a Grab driver until January this year, was one of many who shared links of the fund-raising campaign on social media and various group text messaging.
"Sham has always been there for me so now I just want to help him in whatever way I can. He is a loving father and a hard-working man. All of us Grab kakis just want him to be okay," he added.
In response to queries from TNP, a spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development said it was aware of the family's circumstances and understands that Mr Sham is getting help for his medical expenses while his children are getting help for their educational expenses.
The spokesman added that the family is also getting help from various community organisations.
"Our Social Service Office has been in touch with the family, offering support and working with our community partners to ensure Mr Sham and his family's medical and basic needs are met. We are facilitating their application for ComCare assistance," said the spokesman.
Madam Fadzilah said she will be "forever grateful" for all the support.
"My children and I cannot thank everyone enough for all the help. I will never, ever forget this," she said.
She visits her husband every day, and fighting back tears, she said the swelling in his brain has become worse over the past week.
"He can't talk and can't move the right side of his body. He can only nod slowly when I speak to him," she said.
His three children cannot visit him due to Covid-19 safety regulations.
"Every day without fail, they will ask how daddy is and when daddy can come back home. It breaks my heart because I know how much they miss him," Madam Fadzilah added.
Mr Sham turned 45 on June 1, and she wrote a message in a card that she read out to him, wishing him a happy birthday and telling him that the family missed him.
She also made a birthday wish on his behalf.
"I pray and hope we can celebrate my husband's birthday next year happily, as one big family," she said.