By Jocelyn Yong
I would like to share a short story about six-year-old Jonah Michio Tan who is fighting for the right to an education.
Although I am twice his age, I feel something has to be done to help him obtain a good education.
Born with a rare form of skeletal dysplasia, Jonah of Damansara Perdana in Kuala Lumpur is always full of life! He has always been smiling, happy, thoughtful and well-mannered, besides being a great brother to his four-year-old Jamian.
Nevertheless, Jonah’s life journey is not as smooth-sailing as one would like to think. It is full of challenges. His physical condition, however, does not stop him from pursuing his two passions in life: baking and dancing!
He has been taught by his mother that cooking and baking can help to develop a sense of responsibility as well as help release stress. His ability to move to the beat of music is simply admirable.
Unfortunately, Jonah is lagging behind in his studies. As he turns seven next year, his parents are still unable to find him a suitable school that provides intensive care for Jonah.
According to his mother, they have been in touch with a government school which offers the Integrated Special Education Programme (PPKI) classes tailored to children who are differently-abled.
However, she has come to a conclusion that Jonah isn’t fit to join their classes as they do not differentiate between physical and mental disabilities.
The children in the classes are hyperactive and some has autism; they may not know how to interact with Jonah. A simple fall may cause his bones to get fractured easily.
Jonah’s mother has gone to the State Education Department to seek for help, but it has turned into a disappointment.
While she can understand that caretakers of the school are not allowed to step out of the class, this would also mean that Jonah will not be able to get any assistance during the toilet breaks.
Lending a hand
After learning about his dilemma, I feel I have to do something to make a difference in Jonah’s life. Yes, I may be only 13 years old, but I think my opinion as a young person matters.
I am sure that all Malaysians will feel that it is unfair for Jonah to be deprived of a good education just because of his physical condition.
We must put our efforts together to produce another Nick Vujicic. Nick was born with physical disability but he is able to do so many things in life.
I believe we should all work together to bring about positive changes to Jonah’s life as well as the other children who suffer from the same condition as Jonah.
Finally, I appeal to the Ministry of Education to give some attention to Jonah’s case.
Anyone who would like to offer help or suggestions can contact Jonah’s mother, Miyumi Yanagi (E-mail: [email protected]). *
* Miyumi, a single mother who has to take care of both Jonah and his younger brother, is thinking of quitting her job come January 2021 when Jonah goes to school. Understandably, this is because she may need to be with Jonah at times whenever the school needs her to be there.
Miyumi is trying to establish Jonah Bakes & Cooks. This is their video: https://youtube.com/channel/UCOMC-8cO4VQv2hZWxA7GIlw of Jonah Cooks.
If you feel that your restaurant can be a good outlet for some of these cookies made by Jonah, please contact 016-238 3423.
Jocelyn Yong is a 13-year-old Form One pupil.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.