“She was the most beautiful little angel.”
Those are the words Tariq and Yasmien Moosa uses to describe their daughter Taskeen.
“But we believe she’s in a better place and waiting for us,” Yasmien adds.
The couple, from Winchester in Johannesburg, had to face the devastation of losing their daughter when she died at the tender age of one.
"That was a very difficult period in our lives," Yasmien recalls.
In October 2009, Taskeen was admitted to hospital with Gastro. She was placed in a hospital ward opposite a child who had measles.
Taskeen was cured of the dreadful infection and was discharged, but once she returned home, the family discovered that the little girl, along with Yasmien, had contracted measles.
Her condition deteriorated fast but nothing could have prepared the family for what would follow.
“We took her to the hospital and she has admitted right away,” Yasmien remembers of the tragic event.
“She passed away the very next day, 20 October 2009.”
Already shaken by her daughter’s sudden death, Yasmien was unaware of the fact that she was pregnant.
Her contraction of measles resulted in a miscarriage – just five days before Taskeen’s death.
The couple faced a trying time but Yasmien and Tariq had unwavering hope and faith.
In 2011, the couple welcomed a healthy little boy.
After the devastating loss of two babies, Mohammed Ismail became the parents’ pride and joy.
Keen on expanding their family, Yasmien fell pregnant again two years later.
Things seemed to look up for the Moosa family, who had endured their fair share of heartache. But unbeknown to them, a whole new journey of trial and tribulation lay ahead.
“I can remember laying on the delivery table and hearing my husband ask, ‘Is he okay?’
“I asked him if everything was fine but he just stared me, white as a ghost, for what seemed like forever.
“Eventually, he just told me the baby is fine and left the room with the nurse.”
Yasmien’s pregnancy showed no signs of anything seriously wrong with her baby. Her gynecologist never picked up anything peculiar either.
It was only after his birth that they realised something was abnormal.
Mohammed Yaqeen was born with a severe case Arthrogryposis (or ‘club feet’) as well as Amniotic Band Syndrome and a tail on his back, just below his spinal cord.
Yasmien and Tariq were crushed.
"We didn’t think that our son would survive. We were highly stressed out; emotionally, physically and mentally beyond ourselves and distraught," says Yasmien.
Mohammed Yaqeen has been for numerous operations and still undergoes the same treatment he started when he just three days old.
The three years since his birth have been traumatic for the family and they still experience severe emotional trauma and stress.
Their only wish is that they knew about his condition before his birth, so that they could prepare themselves for what was to come.
“We wouldn’t have terminated. We know the pain of losing a child.
“No matter the circumstance with our son, we’d still want him in our lives.
“Secondly, abortion is against our religion.
“Conditions aside, we love him unconditionally.
The family have also been embroiled in an ongoing battle with their medical aid, who refuses to cover the costs for Mohammed Yaqeen.
It’s put Tariq under financial strain, the couple adds.
The father and husband is currently self-employed, after he was forced to resign from his previous job at an insurance company.
It's been a long journey of three years for the Moosa family after Mohammed Yaqeen was born with a number of congenital birth defects. PHOTO: Supplied[/caption]
Leg-braces and special shoes help him walk, although he might look a little different to his older brother.
But that hasn’t stopped Mohammed Yaqeen from being the bravest and happiest little chap.
“He is the strongest little person I know,” Yasmien says proudly.
“What he’s been through, no one could ever imagine.
“Every time he falls and gets hurt it’s stressful. But he’s a really strong boy and has the biggest heart – not forgetting his stubborn streak!”
And what does the courageous little three-year-old love? Anything your typical toddler would, it seems.
“He loves spending weekends at the mall, playing games, watching movies, going fishing or when we take them out to eat. But most of all, he loves playing with big brother Mohammed Ismail and their two bunnies Fuzzy and Fluffy.”
A nanny cares for Mohammed Yaqeen during the day and he’s showered with visits from his loving grandparents while his parents are at work.
Although it breaks Yasmien and Tariq’s heart seeing their little boy endure painful operations, they are thankful for his life and the bubbly personality that tiny body contains.
"We just want our son to be a healthy kid,” Yasmien says.
“We want him to be able to run around with his brother and play soccer with other kids.
“We don’t want him to be bullied because of his condition. We want him to be happy and be the best version of himself.”
She adds that their strength lies in their belief that the hardest battles are given to the toughest soldiers.
"We find the strength to keep going on by just knowing that you are never put in a situation that you cannot handle."
“We believe that the strongest people have to fight the most difficult battles."
“As the saying goes, Allah knows best."