A second chance

ERIN ONG was a regular teenager, with a regular life, until an accident at age 17 changed her destiny.

Ong, now 21, said: “I accidentally sprained my left ankle in school [when I fell] into a small drain.

“The pain was still there weeks later, and so my family started to seek treatment, hoping that [physicians] could help me.

“One day, we decided to go to a private physiotherapist. She recommended that I do some exercises to strengthen my legs.”

Despite having stated that she was too tired and already in pain, Ong said the physiotherapist “got carried away”, and pushed her beyond her limits.

After that, Ong had difficulty standing and walking. She sought help at a hospital, but it was too late.

While Ong had a prior history of walking difficulties, this was the first time that she completely lost her mobility.

“Sadly, after a lot of clinical tests, a [proper] diagnosis is still yet to be found, and my health got worse along the way.”

Ong was unable to sit for her SPM, and dropped out of secondary school.

She recalled: “To me it [was] like the world had ended. I was feeling so depressed that I cried almost every day.

“I thought it would be better to just end my life so that I wouldn’t trouble my parents. I started blaming myself, and then blaming the whole world.”

She eventually accepted her situation, and learned that life still goes on.

“Although it took me quite some time, I slowly learned to face my problems head-on, and accept myself for who I am. I chose to fight for myself, I chose to love myself.”

It was up to Ong make the most of her situation. “I do whatever exercises I can, based on my own capability [to] maintain or improve my health ... I believe in making a miracle happen by working diligently at it.”

The internet-savvy Ong also turned to Shopee in 2015, taking pre-orders and selling women’s apparel under the ID Little Flower Closet.

“Every day, I will check the inquiries from my customers, check the orders [for] the day, and then order [stock] from my suppliers.

“I will also do research on the latest women’s fashion trends if I have some free time.

“Later on, when the stocks arrive, my mother will be the one helping me to pack the orders, and go to the post office to send the parcels out.

“In other words, I do all the online stuff, while my mother does the offline stuff.

“At first, I just wanted to use Shopee as another platform [to] expand my online business.

“But eventually, I chose to stay with Shopee because it takes zero commissions, [provides] free shipping, and implements a Shopee Guarantee (releasing payment to the seller once the buyer confirms receiving the order), which helps make it a good environment for both sellers and buyers.”

Ong’s father – the family’s sole breadwinner – sadly passed away two years ago due to stomach cancer.

Ong said: “Thanks to the revenue [from] Shopee, it has definitely helped me to become more financially independent and secure, knowing that our family still has some income every month.

“My average revenue on a monthly basis is RM600 to RM800.”

Ong still faces physical challenges, as she sometimes experiences so much pain that she has to take time off the internet.

She said: “When I am feeling much more comfortable, only then can I be more productive in managing my shop.”

She gives almost all her money to her mother for household expenses, and keeps some as pocket money.

“I am always passionate about managing my online business, because that’s what I love to do,” she said.

“I will always strive to give my customers the best shopping experience that I can, and to ensure my customers are satisfied with my service.

“I always try my best to put in as much effort as I can to manage my shop … It takes time to see the results of your efforts.

“The importance of knowledge must not be neglected. I always take some time to learn new things from different fields, or new information [about] things that I already know.”