By Siti Zulaiha
The last time I spoke with Huda, Isaac and his mummy Theresa, Huda was telling me about how grateful she was for the kindness they had received from the firefighters at Punggol Fire Station.
Since the 21-year-old early childhood educator posted her viral TikTok of five-year-old Isaac getting a surprise visit from his childhood heroes, Huda and Isaac have become even closer.
She told me recently how really happy she was that Isaac’s story was shared on The Pride.
Shortly after that article was published, local content creator Our Grandfather Story came calling to feature more of Isaac’s story.
Huda readily admitted that she gets nervous in front of the camera but said that she decided to go through with it as it was a good chance to share Isaac’s story. It’s her hope, she added, that more people would learn what Isaac and many other children with special-needs go through.
Isaac has Noonan syndrome, a genetic disorder that prevents normal development in parts of the body. Symptoms include unusual facial characteristics, short stature, heart defects, physical problems and other developmental delays.
It also makes him much smaller than a child of a similar age. Notably, he was the smallest among his peers when he first arrived at the childcare centre that Huda works at.
In fact, that was how she first took notice of him.
“The first time I saw Isaac, I felt like I was meant to meet him,” she said.
Isaac needs monthly treatments to examine his inner organs because his lungs and heart are extremely sensitive.
The OGS video shows how Isaac deals with his special needs, including going for his hospital checkups and how his life as a toddler with Noonan syndrome is like.
“The moment Isaac has a slight flu or fever, he needs to be hospitalised to allow doctors to monitor his condition,” explained Huda.
Listening to her talk about his difficulties in such a matter-of-fact manner, I was amazed. Growing up, I was terrified of hospitals and clinics as I am afraid of pain. Imagine what it’s like for a five-year-old who has no choice but to go to the hospital every time he gets a small sniffle?
Seeing him cry in the video honestly broke my heart. No child should go through this.
It was during his most recent surgery, when doctors had to reconstruct his jaws to fix his badly decayed teeth, that the SCDF personnel came for a home visit.
Usually, Huda would actively try to cheer him up before and after his surgeries and make little surprises for him. But the home visit from the firefighters surprised both of them, which made for such a heartwarming story.
Bonding with Isaac’s mummy
In the video, the friendship between Isaac’s mummy Theresa and Huda is plain to see.
Huda had first reached out to Theresa to see if she could help Isaac academically.
But after meeting her, Huda found out that “apart from her family, most of the time, it was just her and Isaac”, so she decided to do something more. She suggested that she could take turns taking care of Isaac whenever Theresa needed a day to herself.
Isaac needed all the love that he could get, she said. “I thought why not if any day that Mummy needs a rest, I can always help watch Isaac as well.”
The trio has since bonded to such a point that they even go on outings together. Not only that, Huda’s parents would also take Isaac out on day trips around Singapore, caring for him like he were their own son!
“From then on, we had many gatherings, we felt like a family,” shared Theresa.
Added Huda: “It is very important to be kind to those around us, especially children — regardless whether they are special needs or a typical child.”
Huda shares that now, many of her colleagues and friends are understanding towards Isaac’s condition. She takes the newfound exposure in a positive light as this means his condition will be slightly better understood now.
“Not many people know about Isaac’s condition and I was truly grateful to be able to share more about it — it’s a condition that needs to be better acknowledged.”
The two families are actively in contact and exchanging pictures of his milestones. Theresa also talked about how grateful she was to Huda because her entry into his life showed Isaac that there were more people to love him.
She shared how when she told Isaac that Huda was coming over, he was ecstatic.
Huda added that it has been a wonderful opportunity to care for Isaac from the moment she laid eyes on him.
The biggest satisfaction for her is the ability to see him grow.
“Being a teacher, seeing him grow, the satisfaction comes when, for example, now he can spell his own name. And even if he takes a longer time to do so, I’m just glad that I’m here to help him.
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In fact, the next time the two families are meeting is for National Day. They are planning a home visit to watch the parade on TV together!
Said Huda with a laugh: “After all, National Day is about being united!”