'Hijabrella' girl of Singapore pens her thoughts on going viral!

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Our 'Hijabrella' girl of Singapore is a true representation of multiculturalism!

After the photo of 23-year-old Sakinah and her grandmother, Annie Loh, 78, have gone viral, she penned her thoughts on being a part of a wonderful multicultural family – one that shows us the true beauty of what it means to be a Singaporean.

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Sakinah Rafiq Tan Hui Ling, 23, uses her headscarf to shelter her grandmother Annie Loh, 78, from rain as they make their way home, at West Coast Drive on July 26, 2016. Photo: Jason Quah /TODAY

 

At first, users had the misconception that she was sheltering an elderly stranger who was passing by, but it turns out she was Ms Sakinah’s beloved Nainai. 

Read the touching excerpt from her blogpost below:

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Image from Sakinah’s blogpost

 

The real story behind the viral photograph:

Ms Tan shares with her readers what actually happened.

She wrote: “On that fateful rainy day, I was sending my Nainai to the clinic and having breakfast with her instead of my mother because I wanted to lighten my mother’s burden of travelling on her injured leg, and I honestly just missed my Nainai.

“Mr Jason Quah was under the block with his professional lens and camera, seeking shelter from the freshly-subsiding rain, when he happened to catch eye of my Nainai and I alighting from the cab. And that’s the truth and history of the current Hijabrella meme.”

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Screenshot from Ms Tan’s Facebook page

 

A true interracial and inter-religious family

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Image from Sakinah’s blogpost

 

In her blogpost, Ms Tan continues to share her photos of her loved ones and wrote a first-hand experience on what it’s like to be a part of such a diverse family.

She also took the opportunity to address the issues that most racially-mixed Muslims go through all the time:

1. Multiple non-Malay Muslims (be they born or converted to Islam) struggle with acceptance from their families, and I’m actually spearheading a few quiet but ground-shaking projects to rectify this issue; and I need all your help. 
Many of them end up homeless because they’re kinda excommunicated from family due to lack of understanding of their change-of-heart; many of them can’t explain why they felt the urge to convert/follow Islam, in spite of the cultural rules society has concretised over many generations.
I’m not asking to house every Muslim you meet; I’m asking you to merely read up a lil on the basics of what this “Malay-ised” religion (only in this region it seems that way), and dispel all the confusion and misfired aggression toward non-Malay Muslims.
(I’m coming up with a book related to this, but maybe when it’s out then you guys will see what its all about)

2. Interracial families are becoming more and more prominent but the stigma persists…especially with the youth *cringe*
I’ve heard of painful family dramas when racially-opposing couples get together, I’ve experienced the best of beautiful friends’ interracial matrimonial stories, and I’ve also come across the SGAG comments section (ugh). Singapore, we gots a problem – should we not fix it? Especially with the ‘bright-eyed’ youth who make the bulk of mindless keyboard warriors, talking snap about sensitive issues they can’t even wrap their still-yet-to-mature minds around?
Dear government, maybe you should consider shedding light on interracial families in the future Social Studies syllabi? (just a suggestion!)

3. The old lack the lovin’.
Across, from my Nainai’s block, is where her younger brother resides, alone with no wife or children. He is my granduncle (Kukong/姑公), and he suffers from diabetes and deteriorating eyesight.

He and my grandfather are in their 70’s, they’re still working their butts off to keep the food on the table, but what’s more important is that these old folks, inclusive of their other independently-living neighbours, always seem so sombre.

I find it quite sad that me just sheltering my Nainai has stirred hearts for the mere fact that it’s rare to find a 3rd gen care for the 1st gen. My Nainai lights up when she hears my usually-busy-with-school cousins come to visit just because they want to see her, and not because they have an errand to run with her. Imagine how much happy this pioneer gen is being deprived of 🙁

 

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Ms Tan and her multiracial family. Image from Sakinah’s blogpost

 

Muslim users also commented on the very useful benefits of a hijab…

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How to build a more supportive community

As Singaporean parents, we should always teach our kids to be more open and respectful on the different races and religion. We shouldn’t be labelled because of our skin colour – we are who we are because we choose to be. And parents should always be an advocate to multiracialism.

What does being a Singaporean mean to you as a parent? Here’s a video that might just help you shed light on what Singaporean parents should strive for – to be full of love and acceptance, regardless of race or religion.

Do you have any thoughts on this? Share with us!

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Written by

Mizah Salik