“I was in shock, didn’t even know how to cry,” says Abdullah Musthaq, 33, of the fateful day in May when he was told that both his kidneys had failed.
The tears did come, and with it concern about his four year old daughter. “I thought of who would take care of her after I’m gone, who would help her achieve things in life.”
These thoughts are no longer what preoccupy Musthaq. “The first day when I got the news was the only day when my mind vacillated, between hope and despair.”
Dressed in a black shirt, sitting in his modest sitting room, Musthaq is the epitome of an upbeat person. He is often asked how he manages to stay so positive in the face of such adversity. “I decided that I will do all it takes to get better, that I would fight until the last moment.”
Using educational skills
Musthaq credits his educational skill and his area of work for his positive attitude. He is a trainer of life skills: “I teach people parenting skills, on how to have a positive attitude and build confidence.”
The news that he was at the last stage of renal disease came as a surprise to him. On his way to India on a personal trip, he experienced swollen feet and was diagnosed at KIM’s hospital. “The doctors in India told me that I would have had symptoms before.”
The symptoms were there, feeling tired, swelling feet, nausea but the kidney problem was not diagnosed. Musthaq would rather not dwell on that.
“I am at peace, I am thankful to God that I am a beneficial person to the society and that I can contribute positively.”
Since the age of 12 Musthaq has been in the education field; as a student he gave tuition to younger kids, and later he took up teaching professionally at the age of 22. He also works as a counselor at AMDC clinic.
His teachings has touched many among them Zaeema Mohamed. “My life had changed dramatically for the better since I took part in Musthaq’s workshops,” says Zaeema who took part in a parenting skills and leadership skills workshops. “I feel it’s my duty to help him now.”
Zaeema volunteers with 19 students and friends in helping to raise money for Musthaq’s treatment.
Hope for survival
Musthaq’s only hope of survival is a kidney transplant. The costs for the transplant, including the stay in Sri Lanka, is US$45,000, but volunteers have already raised 53 percent of the amount from a generous public.
Musthaq’s wife says she couldn’t have faced the situation at all if it had been her. “He is very brave; even the dialysis is painful process.”
Dialysis is a thrice weekly thing for Musthaq. Two needles are inserted to his arm, one into a vein and another into an artery. Musthaq doesn’t numb his arm as the doctor says that it’s better to do it that way.
He often gives pep talks to other patients on dialysis if they seem distressed. “I try to give them hope, ask them to fight.”
“Musthaq has used his education and the knowledge he uses in his training on himself, that’s why he is able to be a fighter and stay positive, with strength God gives him,” says Hussain Abdullah ‘Kendhoo’, coordinator of the ‘Help Musthaq’ movement, and his friend.
Kendhoo worked as a fellow teacher with Musthaq in the 90’s. He lost touch with Musthaq and says he bumped into Musthaq upon his return from studies abroad and found out about his illness.
“I can’t give financial help, so I thought this was one way I could help out.”
Kendhoo floated the idea of a voluntary team. With their wives in tow, Kendhoo and Musthaq had the initial meeting with friend’s and students who wanted to volunteer. Now the team meets every night that Musthaq is not on dialysis.
“We don’t have any administrative costs, each volunteer pays for their own phone calls and any other expenses, whatever we raise is kept for Musthaq’s treatment.”
The team sells badges and T-shirts, but their main aim is workshops to improve people’s lives.
Musthaq and Kendhoo both wanted to link the activities to education. “I want to impart the knowledge I have, for the donations” says Musthaq, adding that he would like people to be able to deal with life’s hardships in a good way. “If people accept that in life anything could happen, that you might fall ill, if that acceptance is there you will be more ready to face whatever hurdles that come your way in a positive fashion.”
Kendhoo says Mushtaq’s attitude is impressive, “If we have a headache most of us would skip work. Musthaq in his condition still works as a counselor, and you have to have inner strength to do that.”
A professional accountant, Kendhoo plans to get a local firm to do an audit of the money they have raised. “We will publish everything on our website so that the public won’t lose trust in movements like these, because there are others that still need help.”
Next on Musthaq’s agenda is just that. “Once I get better I would like to start an association to help the dozens of patients who are in the same situation as me.”
A seminar on ‘Ulitmate successful living’ by Ahmed Musthaq will take place on Saturday October 23 at Dharubaaruge from 20:30pm to 22:30pm. Seminar will be conducted in Dhivehi. For tickets and information please call 797 7353 or 998 6244.