SETIA ALAM: It is often said that a mother’s devotion to her family knows no bounds.

Few can epitomise this better than Sia Siew Chin, 58, who has demonstrated exceptional dedication and support for her two special needs children.

Since her youth, Sia has suffered from muscular dystrophy, which is a group of genetic diseases that cause progressive weakness and degeneration of her skeletal muscles.

Her daughter Ng Pui Yarn, 25, suffers from the same disease, while her son Pin Yarn, 18, has struggled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder since he was two.

“There is a Chinese saying that mothers become stronger in the face of vulnerabilities. The challenges I face do not make me extraordinary because it’s my children who give me strength.”

She said Pui Yarn has struggled to accept her disadvantages from childhood and often compares herself with her peers.

Some of them laugh and tease her, which has been a major challenge for Sia.

“I constantly strive to motivate and support Pui Yarn, to instil in her a sense of self-acceptance because once one’s inner strength is fortified, any obstacle can be overcome,” Sia said.

She added that raising her son has had its challenges too because in her condition, it can be difficult dealing with his tantrums.

To add to her woes, Sia’s husband is a polio victim and has been wheelchair-bound since childhood, adding another layer of complexity to their family’s dynamics.

“Despite our disabilities, my husband and I have always done our best to provide enriching experiences for our children. Having muscular dystrophy is not a barrier to motherhood,” she said.

Sia was among eight mothers who were honoured recently by Kiwanis Malaysia with the Kiwanis Mother’s Award 2024, for selflessly dedicating themselves to their children despite numerous challenges.

The awards were bestowed upon them by Her Royal Highness Tengku Permaisuri Selangor Tengku Norashikin Abdul Rahman.

Another awardee was Cordelia Lee Suet Fun, 52, whose seven-year-old son Patrick Kon was born with Alagille Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes one to have more bile ducts in the liver than normal.

Alagille Syndrome can also cause skin, heart, facial, kidney and eye abnormalities.

Lee was selected for the award due to her resilience, empowerment and advocacy throughout her journey of raising her son.

She said she initially felt a whirlwind of emotions, including guilt and self-doubt, and suffered depression upon realising that her journey as a mother might not unfold as smoothly as it does for others.

“But one day, as I looked at my beautiful baby, I realised that I wanted nothing more than for him to experience a fulfilling life, regardless of how short it may be.

“Even if his time with us is brief, I am determined to fill him with nothing but love, sunshine and rainbows.”

Lee said heartwarming moments came when other mothers, who were strangers of different races and backgrounds, showed genuine concern for her son’s condition.

She wrote songs such as Never Give Up and Power Baby to give him confidence as he grew up, and sang them daily to uplift him and

bolster her determination.

Kiwanis Malaysia Academy chairman Datuk Fatimah Saad said the Kiwanis Mother’s Award 2024 symbolises a modest effort to support and uplift exceptional mothers.