No one can really understand someone’s situation unless they’ve gone through something similar.
Raybe Oh Siew Hui suffered 80% of burns on her body when she attempted to save her boyfriend and friends from a burning car. Farzana Abdul Razak, a survivor of a plane crash, came forward to encourage her by sharing her experience.
Madam Farzana (39) survived the SQ006 plane crash in 2000. The Singapore Airlines flight SQ006 had been bound for Los Angeles, but never made it. It taxied into a closed runway at Taipei’s then-Chiang Kai-shek Airport. The plane crashed into construction equipment and caught fire; killing 83 of the 179 people on board. Madam Farzana’s budding career as an air stewardess went up in flames resulting in 45% of her body being burnt. She was only 18 then.
She recalled working tirelessly alongside her co-workers to evacuate passengers even though they were injured. “I didn’t feel any pain at the time, but a doctor told me that I was seriously injured and must be sent to a hospital,” she said. She thought her clothes had been burnt off but it was actually her skin sloughing off. On top of the burns, she suffered from smoke inhalation and internal bleeding. This put her in the hospital for two months.
The incident scarred her badly; she underwent 11 skin graft operations and had to wear a special protective sheath even after several years of recovery. Dealing with the physical scars was only the beginning, however. Faced with the reality of her life being upended, Madam Farzana fell into depression. “When I looked at the scars on my hands, I accepted the reality that I wouldn’t be able to fly or wear the kebaya again. My scars were permanent,” she stated. She also suffered from survivors guilt as four of her colleagues had lost their lives in the crash.
After moving to Kuala Lumpur in 2006, Madam Farzana began to heal emotionally. She met her husband and got married the following year. He helped by giving her the space to heal, but the turning point came when she was pregnant with her first child. “I felt this strange need to change,” she explained. “I was worried that my depression would eat into my life and I couldn’t allow that, not with my family on the line, and my son on the way.” She also realised that her scars did not obstruct her dream of being an air stewardess or having a frontline job.
When Madam Farzana watched Oh walk into the fire, she was horrified, but admitted she admired Oh’s courage. Drawing from her personal experience, Madam Farzana stated Oh had a long road ahead of her. “I don’t know the extent of her injury,” she admitted. “But I know she is a strong woman.” She encouraged Oh to not give up hope or live in self-blame as time will heal all wounds, even emotional ones. “The healing process will be a long one but you must want to get better for yourself,” she said.
Oh regained consciousness after 10 days of being hospitalised and is currently in stable condition. She has been transferred to the intensive care unit for further treatment.
We pray Oh continues to recover well and that she gets the support she needs.