Fulfilling a special child's dream

 

Aiman1

A group photo of Aiman and his family, with faculty members and staff from the Faculty of Science as well as some donors, at the spectacular dinosaurs exhibit

Aiman2

Prof Peter Ng, Head of the Museum, chatted with a cheerful Aiman

The dream of a child battling a life-threatening disease became reality with the support of the Faculty of Science.

On 17 January, the Faculty organised a special visit to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum for five-year-old Aiman, who loves animals, especially dinosaurs. Aiman, the only child of Mr Hafiz HAMID and Mdm Syahira SA’ID, has been diagnosed with end-stage Glioma Pontine, one of the most devastating pediatric cancers.

Aiman was given a special tour of the museum, where he came up close with a trio of 150-million-year-old diplodocid sauropod dinosaur skeletons. The dinosaurs towered above his small frame as Aiman stared wide-eyed, soaking in every detail. The chatty child turned quiet, awestruck by these magnificent creatures. These three skeletons were found in a quarry in the small town of Ten Sleep in the United States and are believed to be part of a herd or a family. Aiman, who developed his love for dinosaurs from watching National Geographic programmes, knows the names of many dinosaurs. His favourite is the famous Tyrannosaurus rex.

Aiman was accompanied by his mother and grandmother, 20 children from Arc Children’s Centre, for children with serious illnesses, their teachers and caregivers. He was welcomed by donors, notably Dr Maliki OSMAN, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, and his wife Mdm Sadiah SHAHAL, Aiman’s language teacher and a volunteer at Arc Children’s Centre.

The children were also treated to a tasty lunch at the Learning Lab which was transformed into a play area with colourful balloons. The children sang Aiman’s favourite songs, “Peng You” (Friends) and “Top of the World”. Just as they finished their lunch, the children were surprised as a dinosaur walked menacingly into the room. Initial feelings of shock and fear at the sight of a walking dinosaur turned into playful squeals and laughter as the children approached the fearsome creature to touch it. At the end of the visit, each child was given a dino goodie bag filled with treasures that would help them remember this visit for a long time to come.

Despite his illness and his inability to walk, Aiman was all smiles and cheerfully chatted with his friends during the visit. When asked how he was feeling Aiman said, “I am happy. I am not tired. I love the dinosaurs.”

Prof Roger TAN, Vice Dean (Education and Special Duties), Faculty of Science said, “We are pleased to bring a wonderful experience to this incredibly brave child. We hope that the special visit will create lasting happy memories for Aiman and his family.”

The visit to the museum was made even more significant with the announcement that the NUS Science-Aiman Merit Scholarship was created in recognition of the courage and resilience shown by Aiman and his family in the face of overwhelming difficulties. The scholarship, made possible by the generous contributions of Aiman’s well-wishers who altogether pledged more than $75,000, will enable a deserving student to pursue a Science education at NUS.

Prof Tan, who presented Aiman with a specially designed placard carrying Aiman’s named scholarship added, “Aiman’s story is truly inspirational. He is an excellent ambassador of the scholarship as his fighting spirit epitomises the strength of the dinosaurs he adores.”

Aiman3

Prof Roger Tan presented Aiman with a letter and placard of the NUS Science-Aiman Merit Scholarship

Aiman4

Dr Maliki Osman had an enjoyable chat with Aiman

Aiman5

Aiman showed no fear interacting with a staff dressed in a life-like dinosaur costume