You never know when you’ll meet your soulmate. For Ms Maryam Abdul Mohsen, it was just another day in class, when she met the man she would marry.
“The thing is, he actually met me first! We had previously taken one entire semester of Research Methodology together. But when he told me that, I didn’t even remember it because he was so quiet and shy,” Maryam laughs.
“But this time, Dr. Hariyati (their lecturer for the course) didn’t let us choose our group members for our assignment – so really, I was forced to meet him!”
By the end of the semester, Maryam and Mr Ahmad Fadzel were – to the surprise of Dr. Hariyati – happily and officially husband and wife.
Maryam is an amazingly positive person, and you can see how thankful she is for her “chubby hubby” on her social media posts. This is why I believe her when she says she had absolutely no doubts about marrying him.
Even when they couldn’t afford a majlis (wedding reception).
Even when all they had to travel to class and their various part-time jobs during their final year was Fadzel’s 16-year-old ancient “motor buruk gila.”
And even when, with just two semesters to go before graduation, Maryam found out that her JPA sponsorship was to be cut off.
Maryam and Fadzel learnt from the Public Services Commission (JPA) that, as a married woman, she was no longer eligible for the sponsorship. She suddenly had to find a way to pay the remaining fees by herself.
Add this to the ever-rising cost of living in Malaysia and Maryam calculated that she would need to raise about RM6,600 to graduate. I asked Maryam whether she ever considered quitting, and the answer was a quiet, but firm, “No.”
“I was never going to quit. I was determined to find a way to continue. If I didn’t find any, I would use the savings I had earned from all my part-time jobs and work to cover the rest.”
“Even though it would be painful to lose all that I had kept for our future, I wanted to finish what I had started.”
She didn’t just finish – Maryam dazzled and ended her final semester with a shiny, perfect GPA of 4.0 (Check out the awesome study tips she shares on her blog here.) But it was during that desperate period where Maryam found out about crowdfunding through Skolafund co-founder and fellow IIUM undergraduate Tengku Ahmad Syamil.
Maryam had seen Syamil’s Facebook posts, and dropped him a message to ask more. About a week later, she had written up her campaign, verified her story and now had 30 days to raise more than RM6,000. I asked her how she felt when her Skolafund campaign launched:
“I was nervous, but hopeful! The best part of it was the overwhelming positive support that family, friends, even strangers gave to me. I had friends asking me how my campaign was going everyday, and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.”
“Hajar and Abdullah, from the IIUM Students’ Representative Council (SRC), reached out to me and shared my campaign many times. It was all so, so positive.”
“Halfway through the campaign, one kind stranger even contacted me through Skolafund. His name was Razif, and he offered to loan me the entire RM6,600 with no time limit, no strings attached. He told me, ‘I just want you to finish your studies.’ I was very touched.”
But, in the end, Maryam didn’t need to take it. She set an aim of getting a minimum of RM200 every day, and actively promoted her campaign. The hard work paid off. Hundreds shared her campaign and in the end, 45 “angels” contributed to bring Maryam’s campaign to 100% – although Maryam reveals that there were actually more!
“There were those who saw my story, but wanted to just give their contributions directly to me – so I thankfully took it and put the money into my own campaign!”
Today, Maryam is working at The Stretch Clinic. She schedules appointments for clients in search of “pain-free movement,” amongst other tasks. She admits that life after graduation is “harder than I thought it would be,” but she’s also confident that, together with Fadzel, she can tackle any obstacle.
In between work, Maryam dreams of furthering her studies. She applied to do Masters in Forensic Psychology at University of Kent, but withdrew because she wouldn’t be able to afford studying in UK.
Maryam also wants to put her psychology skills to use with the community – she laughs as she tells me she’s applied for a position with Women’s Aid Organisation twice, and plans to do so again “until they notice me!”
But her latest adventure with “Chef Fadzel Gordon Ramsey” is Projek Umrah, a food delivery service with Nasi Ayam Goreng Kunyit on the menu, cooked together and with love. The goal? To fund their umrah, or minor pilgrimage to Makkah. (Show them some love, and order today!)
“Whatever dreams you want to achieve, you have to plan together. Then, you have to work together towards it! Be a team, don’t be like Mat Jenin,” Maryam shares, recalling the traditional Malay story of a boy who spent all day dreaming without working.
Nothing worth having was ever achieved without hard work. Maryam and Fadzel know the road ahead won’t be smooth. But they’ll continue on it together, even if it’s on an old, but trusty, “motor buruk gila.”
Sharing Maryam’s story helps more people know about the power of crowdfunding, which means more people like Maryam can benefit or sponsor other campaigns. You can share this post on social media using the icons on the bar!
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