She Was A Teenage Mom, Divorcee, And Now A Business Owner

Image: Antonio Guillem / / Epigram

It’s easy to lose sight of yourself, somewhere down this long arduous journey we call Life.

I know I do.

Too often, I find myself grasping at straws, struggling for air.

What was I doing? What am I supposed to do? And what is my life’s purpose?

To this day, I still have no idea.

And yet, perhaps that’s why I’m so invested in learning about other peoples’ experiences. How did they fare? How did they cope? Above all, how did they survive this harsh game, that’s so aptly called Life? I wanna know because it serves as a beacon of sorts to me:

A lost player in this vast MMORPG.

So really, it’s only fitting that I write an article on this particular topic because I’m not just interested in it;

I feel obliged to deliver her story, out to the rest of you out there…

Who might feel just as lost as I am.

But hey, if there’s a lesson to be learnt, it’s that no matter how down in the slumps you might get…

You will get there.

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She Was A Teenage Mom, Divorcee, And Now A Business Owner

Meet Ms Liyanah Dhamirah, aged 32. She’s the founder of her own administrative services start-up Virtual Assistants Singapore.

Image: Kelvin Chng

Marital wise, she’s reasonably successful too. The mother of three children, she currently resides with her husband, Mr Muhammad Faizal Sugi, 36, in a four-room flat in Woodlands.

And to cap it all off? She recently published a book with Epigram Books, and it’s available at the Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop and other major bookstores at $20.22 including GST.

Living life? Definitely.

Yet, do not be deceived by Ms Liyana’s cheerful exterior, or her accomplishments. Because as her book title states…

It hasn’t always been smooth-sailing.

Homeless: The Untold Story Of A Mother’s Struggle In Crazy Rich Singapore

Back in her teens, she was a self-professed wild child.

“I was mixing with the wrong crowd, who were drinking and partying.”

At the tender age of 16, she met a 23-year-old man through mutual friends. Within three months as a couple in 2003, she got pregnant. And because abortion was not possible due to her faith, she was compelled to have it. The couple got married in September that year, and she dropped out of school to take her O-level examinations in a private examination centre.

On 4 Dec 2003, she had a first child, a son. Shortly after that, she began working as a waitress to support her family.

However, she wasn’t prepared for all the responsibility that came with one of the toughest professions in the world.

“Being a wife was something I was not prepared for,” she said.

It started falling apart

Despite facing marital issues, the couple had a second son two years later, in 2005. Then, in 2009, the couple had to move out of her mother-in-law’s flat.

Gathering their things, she resorted to staying with several other families at the beach for three months. During that time, her two sons stayed with her mother in Johor Bahru.

Contrary to what you might think, living by the beach wasn’t all black and grey.

“It was not all bad, there was a nice kampung feel,” she said.

In the day, Ms Liyana would contact social workers and attend meet-the-people sessions. They were then offered shelter under New Hope Community Services.

On New Year’s Day 2010, she moved into a shared three-room flat. But just when she gained something, she lost something.

She got divorced around four years later.

Building back up

Today, she’s happily married to her current husband and lives with her three children and husband in a four-room flat in Woodlands. She’s also the founder of her own administrative start-up Virtual Assistants Singapore.

And through all the hardships in her life, she has also gathered the courage to tell her story in a new book titled ‘Homeless: The Untold Story Of A Mother’s Struggle In Crazy Rich Singapore’.

“Liyana’s story is a compelling one you don’t hear often in Singapore. It deserves to be told,” Mr Edmund Wee, Epigram Books’ founder, told TNP.

Kudos, Ms Liyana. Kudos. If there’s anything you’ve taught us…

It’s that life’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Meanwhile, you can get her book at the Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop and other major bookstores at $20.22 including GST.