PETALING JAYA, June 18 — Being a frontliner in the age of Covid-19 is anything but easy.
Even more so when you’ve got a family at home to worry about.
For many Malaysian dads, the movement control order (MCO) pushed them to take on new careers as e-hailing drivers or delivery riders to put food on the table.
In celebration of Father’s Day this Sunday, Malay Mail spoke to two dads who braved challenges to become frontliners and provide for their families.
Hadi Mohamad Sufri, 45, is a divorced single father based in Miri, Sarawak who turned to e-hailing and delivery work with Grab when the pandemic hit.
He used to be a safety officer in the shipping industry but gave up his day job for something more flexible as he needed to be by his children’s sides during the MCO while schools were closed.
As a single father, Hadi also relies heavily on his relatives and community to look after his children while he is out earning a living.
It takes a village to raise a child and the saying is especially true in Hadi’s case as he occasionally has to continue driving at night if he does not meet his income goals for the day.
“On some days where I do not meet my daily income, I would try to make up for it at night for a few hours after the children are settled and in bed.
“Luckily, I had help from my family and community who were able to take care of my kids while I was working.
“Because of their help, I can go to work knowing my kids are safe and well taken care of when I’m not there.”
The first MCO was particularly difficult for Hadi and it was normal for him to earn as little as RM300 per week due to a steep decline in e-hailing passengers.
Since then, he’s taken on car-based deliveries to supplement his income and communicates regularly with the e-hailing community to pinpoint the best hours and areas to find jobs.
Hadi now has bright hopes for the future and has set himself a personal goal to save up for a holiday in Kuala Lumpur once state borders open up.
“After a tough year with many hurdles and challenges not only for me but my kids as well, I’m looking forward to hopefully travelling and taking them for a holiday, maybe to Kuala Lumpur.
“I want to spend more time with my children and make memories that they will remember.
“As a single dad, my only hope and dream for them is to do well in their studies and hope that they continue to be happy no matter where they go and what they do.”
From cabin crew to delivery rider
It was a similar predicament for former AirAsia long-haul cabin crew member Azrul Hizzat Marzuki, who found himself in limbo after most of the airline’s flights were grounded during the first MCO.
The 43-year-old then hung up his flight attendant uniform to become a part-time delivery rider at AirAsia’s digital logistics arm Teleport in April 2020 for the sake of his family.
With international borders still shut, Azrul then made the hard decision to bid goodbye to a five-year career in the skies in October 2020 to focus on delivery work full-time.
It was uncharted territory for the father-of-five but the transition was made easier thanks to his family cheering him on in his new role.
“I can’t thank my family enough for sticking with me through thick and thin.
“They understand how this pandemic has affected my income and as a family, we have managed to find balance in our financial, physical, and mental well-being.
“When I see them after a busy day of delivering food, every drop of sweat is worth it,” said Azrul, who is based in Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor.
Being a delivery rider comes with its own set of challenges, including planning his work schedule and braving the hot weather to deliver the goods on time.
Despite the hurdles, Azrul believes that the situation has brought a silver lining in the form of more quality time with his loved ones.
“One thing’s for sure, now I get to spend more time with my family as I can be at home every day as opposed to a few nights a week when I was flying.
“The pandemic has taught us all to appreciate the small things in life.
“Last year, I managed to attend my daughter’s school sports day. Just watching her getting the medals brought tears to my eyes as I could’ve missed many of these precious moments if I was flying.”
Azrul also remains hopeful that international flights will resume soon and he dreams of making a return to the skies as a cabin crew member once it is safe and viable to do so.
Until then, his family’s well-being and looking after his health remain at the top of his priority list.
“The pandemic has taught me that family and wellbeing come first.
“There’s always a way to find an income, but money doesn’t mean anything if you have nobody to share your happiness with or if you’re sick.
“As a family, we strive to stay positive in whatever situation.”
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