GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Born blind and abandoned at birth, Esah Hussin epitomises the adage that anything is possible with grit and determination.
The telemarketing officer, 42, has just moved into her newly bought low-medium-cost apartment in Tanjung Tokong which she bought for RM72,500 (S$23,730) in cash.
She had saved the money for 19 years, setting aside at least RM500 from her monthly salary working as a file assembler and telemarketing officer over the years.
In Malaysia, flats costing below RM100,000 are usually labelled low or medium cost apartments, and sold to those with limited family incomes.
"I am happy and contented with what I have today," Ms Esah said. "I just moved into the unit and some of my friends and colleagues came over for a mini house-warming party."
She added at her house on Monday (Dec 16): "I am still getting used to my new place and living alone.
"Many people supported and motivated me along the way and I am glad that I did not let them down."
Ms Esah first applied to buy a low-medium-cost apartment in 2014 but the form was misplaced.
She had to register again in 2016 and was called up for balloting by the Penang state government in 2017. She received her keys in April this year.
After being abandoned by her parents, Ms Esah was raised at an orphanage in Kelantan. She then studied at a special school, SK Pendidikan Khas Princess Elizabeth, in Johor Baru.
She moved to an orphanage in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, during her secondary school days.
After completing her studies, she was introduced to St Nicholas Home in Penang, where she learnt basic living skills, communication skills and information technology (IT).
And the turning point came when she met trainer Jayah Doraisamy at the home.
"She encouraged me to save money and buy a house. I spend wisely and prudently, using only the money from my Disabled Workers' Allowance (EPC), which is RM300 a month. The amount was increased to RM400 three years ago."
"Almost all my salary goes to the savings. I also sing at events to earn some pocket money."
She added: "I hope that people who share the same fate as me would not depend on others. They can live independently, just like me."
Madam Jayah, 60, who retired recently, said she was proud of Ms Esah's determination.
"When she was a teenager, it was quite hard for her to adapt to a new environment. I told her it is important to equip herself with mobility, social and Braille skills," Madam Jayah said. "She has a very good voice and strong communication skills. She has been invited to sing at functions and people engage her to perform at events."
She said that St Nicholas' Home allowed Ms Esah to stay on special merit for more than 10 years, and she knew that she had to move on by living independently.
"I am proud of her, and believe that she will be able to live her life comfortably now," Madam Jayah said.