October 7, 2019 | Family | No Comments
Teenager Anis Humairah Riduwan left school when she was 15, but she has not stopped learning.
From her home in Lubok Merbau, a village not far from Kuala Kangsar, Perak, the 18-year-old has become the face of her family’s business on social media.
Anis helps to market the telekung (prayer shawls) that she and her mother sew, on Facebook and Instagram by posting their new products and engaging with their audience.
But Anis’ mother, Roziah Mohd Raziki, is most proud that her daughter is also a skilled tailor – she can measure, cut and sew baju kurung, telekung and skirts. Anis is also good at needlework, especially in embroidery, applique and knitting.
She has certainly come a long way since being diagnosed with learning and hearing disabilities at the age of 10. Until then, Roziah had assumed her daughter didn’t do well in school because she was a daydreamer and a late bloomer.
Anis’ diagnosis galvanised Roziah into taking a different approach in bringing her up. She took her daughter’s challenges in her stride, and decided to make the most of the resources available to her family.
When Anis was 13, Roziah – who is a tailor – decided she would teach her daughter how to sew because it’s what she knows best.
“Anis needs an essential skill set that can help her earn a living. I am a seamstress so I felt it was a good idea to pass down this skill to my special needs child,” says 43-year-old Roziah who encouraged her daughter to complete a two-year creative sewing certification course at SM Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Merbok in Bedong, Kedah, after Form Three.
The path that Roziah helped to chart for Anis has led her to discover and develop her aptitude for needlework.
Anis’ talent was recognised when she won in the embroidery category at the Abilympics Malaysia competition this year, and she will represent the country at the International Abilympics competition in Moscow next year. It is an international skills-based competition for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). She is among 15 people with disabilities from Malaysia vying for gold at the the event, in 15 of the 30 categories, including floral arrangement, painting, embroidery, cooking and photography.
“Words cannot describe how happy I am. I never dreamed of representing Malaysia in any competition, especially with my disabilities. I thank my parents for all their support,” says Anis, who uses a hearing device but has no speech issues. She is articulate although a little shy.
To win the embroidery competition, Anis will have to beat the others in terms of speed, creativity and technical knowledge.
Anis is working hard to prepare for the competition, travelling to KL regularly for week-long embroidery training with UiTM fashion lecturer Dr Rose Dahlina Rusli since early this year. She is teaching Anis various embroidery techniques including chain stitch, satin stitch, French knot and Lazy Daisy. Dr Rose hopes to improve her speed and give her a bigger repertoire of skills.
“She’s a fast learner. She’s very capable and talented. Her skills are really good. It proves that a person’s disability should never be viewed as an obstacle to strive for greater things,” says Rose.
Anis was diagnosed as a slow learner and had never done well academically, but she has persevered and done well in needlework.
Roziah accompanies her daughter when she goes for her training as Anis is still not fully independent yet.
Building a future
Training for a gold Abilympic medal is important, but her mother has a bigger dream for her. Ultimately Roziah wants Anis to be able to use her sewing skills to attain self-reliance, and that means being able to earn her own income.
“My aim is to equip Anis with a skill to be independent and take care of herself when my husband and I are older,” says Roziah, whose biggest worry about her special needs child is her future. She has three other children.
Instead of despairing, Roziah did not only start teaching Anis sewing but she is now actively involving her daughter in her home-based telekung business, which she set up seven years ago.
The business is called Telekung Hannani, named after Roziah’s fifth child who died in 2012 due to heart complications.
“I’ve always liked to sew. From young, I used to help Ibu thread the needle and sew buttons. I’m happy Ibu has given me the opportunity to help out with the business,” says Anis, who appreciates her far-sighted mother’s faith in her.
“I am thankful for Ibu’s guidance. Because I can sew, I can eventually get a job doing beadwork at a bridal shop in Kuala Kangsar,” adds Anis, who of course harbours dreams of being independent.
Anis is happy to model her telekung creations on facebook and instagram.
However, Anis is happy to model her telekung creations on facebook and instagram.her mother has reservations because she is all too aware of Anis’ vulnerability.
“Even if Anis gets a job, she can’t earn much. I’m afraid she might be bullied and have to work long hours. She has problems with balance too. What if she tripped and lost consciousness on the streets of Kuala Kangsar? For now, I can’t allow her to work anywhere far from home.”
For now, Roziah believes it is best and safest for Anis to work with her at home.
“At home, I can look after Anis and provide her with a job. Anis needs to learn that running any business isn’t easy. Thankfully, she’s a good student. She never complains and is always willing to learn, despite my constant nagging and fussing,” says the businesswoman who makes and sells cotton and polyester telekung.
The 4m prayer pieces come in four designs: classic, with lace trimmings, mini (for children) and with zippered pockets. Items are priced between RM68 and RM95.
On average, they sell anything from 40 to 60 telekung a month. Business is brisk, with high demand especially for their telekung with zipped pockets to keep mobile phones and other small items.
Mother and daughter work seven days a week, between eight and 12 hours a day, depending on the amount of orders for their products.
“Sure, we enjoy our work but the hours can be long and tiring. Ibu and I joke and share stories while completing orders. I accept whatever Ibu pays me, which is about RM1,000 a month, that I keep in my savings account,” says Anis, who is also happy to be the face of their telekung business.
“These are our creations, so I am proud to wear them. So far, our telekung pieces are purchased by women who are going to perform their umrah or hajj. Hopefully, we can reach a bigger target audience via online sales,” Anis explains.
Roziah is pleased with Anis’ dedication and determination.
With a grin, Anis says: “Ibu is a strict teacher. Even though she scolds me, I know it’s for my own good.”
Roziah has noticed that her daughter’s confidence has grown in leaps and bounds as she becomes more involved in running their business.
“She is very committed and hardworking. These days, she isn’t shy to interact with customers and promote our telekung at bazaars,” says Roziah proudly.
Anis recognises that she is doing well because her mother believes in her and refuses to give up on her even though she was diagnosed as disabled.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without my mother’s support. My parents have always been my pillar of strength. They have encouraged me to be the best in everything. My advice to other disabled people is to never feel shy about your limitations. Strive for greater things in life,” concludes Anis.