Single mum Fadzileen binti Mat Piah's story is one of utmost resilience, especially in the face of adversity and the challenges of raising four kids on her own
For the past 10 years, Kak Leen has been the sole breadwinner for her family, taking on consultancy projects and catering orders to generate income to support herself and her kids.
"My kids depend on me 100%, so it was quite a struggle to make ends meet because jobs don't always come along," she told SAYS in an exclusive interview.
"It was especially difficult after my son was diagnosed with autoimmune disease when he was 10."
Needing a more consistent source of income, Kak Leen decided to join Grab earlier this year, where she was recently recognised as one of the ride-hailing company's most valued drivers
In a video released in honour of her Gold Class recognition, the single mother revealed more details of her son's diagnosis and how she felt knowing that he will not be able to experience life the way his peers do.
"When he was 10 years old, he had a fever and was admitted to the hospital for a week. The doctor then diagnosed him with autoimmune disease. One year later, the doctor confirmed that his pancreas is damaged," she said.
She also lamented not being able to give him permission to stay overnight at the tahfiz school he studies at due to his health.
In an interview with SAYS, Kak Leen revealed that she is actually fairly new to Grab, having just joined in January
In addition to being her family's main source of income, driving for Grab also has a perk that would not have been possible with a full-time job - flexibility.
"When my son is sick or if he has to be admitted to the ICU, I can't drive Grab because I have to take care of him," she explained, adding that she still takes on catering orders whenever she receives bookings.
While her kids were pretty receptive to her decision, Kak Leen admits that her sister initially tried to discourage her from joining the ride-hailing company as a driver
"I only have one sister, and she said, 'Dik, it’s dangerous for a woman to drive Grab, stay home!' But I told her, 'Staying at home is also dangerous.'"
She recalled a harrowing experience she once had during a home invasion:
"True story - this one time when I was at home, robbers stormed in and one of them put a parang against my neck, another on my son's neck. I couldn't move. They threatened to rape me in front of my kids, and that they'll kill all of them if I screamed," she said.
"I couldn’t do anything, so I shut up, and they took everything, including my son's medicine bag with his medicine and injections."
Acknowledging that she is "aware of those risks", Kak Leen expressed gratitude that her journey with Grab has been smooth-sailing so far
"I prepare candies, chocolates… so when riders come in, I’ll greet them and tell them to help themselves, so even if they’re in a bad mood, it’ll cheer them up a bit lah," she said.
Apart from the one time a group of riders deliberately damaged her car door handle when she asked them to not slam the door, Kak Leen said that the riders she meets are mostly polite and generous ("I've had some riders who gave me rice and sugar").
Kak Leen hopes that by sharing her story, it will inspire and motivate single mothers and those who are in similar situations to pick themselves up and move forward
"I want to encourage those who are in the same situation as me, to tell them that as a single mother, you and I are capable of earning a living on our own," she said.
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