SINGAPORE: Her wheelchair is more than a mobility device to her; it is a lifeline for her family and the vehicle for the 26-year-old's very first job — the workhorse in her quest for independence.
So when CNA Insider viewers learned that it was breaking down, they rallied round GrabFood delivery rider Roszana Ali, who has cerebral palsy.
They raised the funds needed for a new electric wheelchair — about S$2,100 — in less than a day. And within the next three days, it was delivered to her.
Touched by her story, which was published last Thursday, many people have expressed support for her, with some reaching out to CNA Insider to find out how they could lend her a helping hand.
Before she found hope and fulfilment in earning money as a delivery rider, she had tried and failed to get a job until she had given up.
After her story was filmed, her father told CNA Insider that the wheelchair she usually used on the job was giving way. This made it difficult — and potentially dangerous — for her to make deliveries.
That piece of news, which CNA Insider posted on Facebook, sparked Mr Muhammad Bukhary into action. With a few texts to more than 30 people, he managed to raise the money for a new wheelchair by Friday morning.
“Despite her challenges, she’s able to work and even help her family out with chores, and it struck a chord (with me), as an able-bodied person,” said the 31-year-old.
“She’s on the other end of the spectrum, and she couldn’t get a job, so she needs something to get back on her own two feet.”
This sentiment also resonated with 41-year-old Nadiyah Kamsani. She visited Ms Roszana and presented her with about S$2,300, which she hopes can offset the rider’s loss of income and help her family prepare for the coming Hari Raya festivities.
“Even with her kind of disability, she’s so determined to find an income for her family,” she said. “She’s a very smart girl ... It moved me that she didn’t make any excuses despite her disability.”
Referring to a scene in the video where Ms Roszana was helping to vacuum at home, Ms Nadiyah added: “When I saw her doing that, I was like ... ‘Oh my god, I wish I had a daughter like that.’”
SHE’S VERY TOUCHED, STAYING POSITIVE
Ms Roszana admitted to being surprised and overwhelmed by the attention she has received. When asked how she felt seeing herself on camera, she said with a bashful smile that she was “shy”.
But it also made her realise that the work she was doing was tough.
“When I deliver, I just do,” she said. “But I think positively. And I want the world to know how hard it is for disabled people to find a job.”
She is grateful for the outpouring of support from readers and viewers. More than 50 people contacted CNA Insider to offer help, while hundreds posted words of encouragement.
“To be honest, I’d probably be annoyed if the food delivery is slow, but when I open the door and see her, I’d feel ashamed of myself,” commented Mr Yazid Sallim.
“I’d be honoured to be served by her — I’d feel blessed that she would’ve made me reflect on my behaviour.”
Ms Roszana took the advice of some of those she had spoken to, and started a crowdfunding page. But it closed within an hour, as Mr Muhammad had by then funded the cost of her new wheelchair in full.
“I do read all the comments one by one, and I’m very touched,” she said, adding that while she has noticed comments questioning the safety of this job for her, she will take them in her stride.
“If everything is dangerous, then you’ll never go out,” she said. “Just be yourself, don’t care about the negative things ... Just go out and be positive.”
And she is extra grateful for the new wheelchair, as there is “a lot of difference” from her previous one, which she had used for nine years.
“This one is a lot faster, and the new seat is a lot firmer,” she explained.
While she has a spare motorised wheelchair, subsidised by SG Enable, she prefers not to use it for her deliveries because it is smaller and the wheels tend to get stuck in the platform gap at MRT stations.
“We didn’t know he (Mr Muhammad) was going to buy (one),” she added. “The person who came to me said they’re very proud of me, and also told me to take it easy because it’s the fasting month.”
PAYING IT FORWARD
Ms Roszana is also mindful that many other people with disabilities may need a helping hand. This is something her father, Mr Ali Osman, hopes she will always remember.
“I’m thankful to God and to those who’ve contributed. And I told her that with the help she received, she must remember those who are even more in need than she is,” he said.
In fact, Ms Roszana donated a portion of the money she received to relatives who also needed financial help — but Mr Ali said she did not want to tell anyone.
“That’s how pure her heart is,” he said. “I’ve taught her not to be very kiasu with money since young. And we want to share the blessings with those in need during this blessed month of Ramadan.”
As it turned out, Grab had planned to conduct an internal fundraiser to buy her a wheelchair.
But as she has since received one, the company intends to gift S$1,500 worth of GrabFood vouchers to the Muslim Handicap Society of Singapore, the non-profit organisation she chose.
“We’re heartened that Roszana chose to bless others, and we’re proud to help her pay it forward,” said Grab’s co-chief of staff and head of GrabFood Singapore Lim Kell Jay.
The impact of her story will soon be felt in other ways too. Readers and viewers have made suggestions they hoped Grab could implement, ranging from better incentives for riders with disabilities to allowing customers to leave tips for riders.
When asked about these, the company confirmed that change is in the pipeline, including plans to roll out a function for customers to tip GrabFood Singapore riders later this year.
If a rider is in a wheelchair, the company will indicate via GrabChat messages and a customised icon in-app that its rider has a physical disability, so merchants and customers can temper their expectations, or offer help if necessary.
It is also looking at limiting the delivery distance for these riders. And it hopes to partner with electric wheelchair manufacturers so its riders can get wheelchairs or batteries at a cheaper rate if needed.
In the meantime, things are looking up for Ms Roszana’s family. “I know her plight and my own struggles, but … I don’t really bother about the pains any more,” said Mr Ali, who is unable to work because of asthma.
“Things are getting better, and I’m just very thankful.”