Singaporean Father of 10 Children Shares Challenges Balancing Work and Family

Returning to his flat in Woodlands, Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Mohamed Jailani, 36, is greeted by his wife and ten children.

“When people hear that I have ten children, they are astounded, but to me, it’s just having a bigger family that’s all, no different from everyone else,” says SSgt Jailani

“My other worries are to teach them not to mix with bad company, how to save money even with little money, learning the needs and strengths of all my ten children and helping them to love me as their father,” says SSgt Jalani.

This fathers’ day, SSgt Jailani celebrates with his family at a chalet where they bond over good food and a splashing good time at the pool.  

The rescue specialist is part of the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s elite unit – the Disaster and Rescue Team (DART) which handles complex rescue and fire-fighting incidents such as urban search and rescue, prolonged fire fighting, height and confined space operations and water rescue.

Only the best officers join DART and they undergo an extremely grueling selection test.

View the SCDF DART Selection videos here (link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TF142sb-S8) as Home Team News tails 16 DART hopefuls, of which SSgt Jailani was one of them.

During the selection, SSgt Jailani often came close to giving up due to the sheer physically and mental stress of the 28-hour test that included a 7km run, 21km road march, concrete wall breeching, height and confined space test and heat and humidity endurance.

As they say, looks can be deceiving.

Although SSgt Jailani stands at 1.58m and weighs only 49kg, he was able to carry dummy casualties heavier than him (wearing his breathing apparatus which weighs 15kg) and perform the other range of challenging and sometimes excruciating exercises.

“What other officers can’t do, DART must do, because we are called in to perform the more complex and demanding emergencies, so we cannot afford to slip up because real lives are at stake in every crisis, that’s why the selection is so tough,” says SSgt Jailani

To train for his selection, he had to sacrifice some family time, but it was worth the while and SSgt Jailani was one of 8 officers of 16 officers who signed up for the DART selection back in 2012.

What keeps him in the force for 8 years is his passion for rescuing people.

“When you save someone, the feeling is indescribable,” say SSgt Jailani.

He says that height rescue operations are challenging due to the danger and to have many people watching from the ground.

“Any rescue job that cannot be done we must be able to finish it. We cannot afford to make mistakes because real lives are at stake. So it is really demanding to hold on the DART tag,’ says SSgt Jailani.

SSgt Jailani's three youngest daughters. PHOTO: Joanne

Not only is SSgt Jailani a passionate rescue specialist, he is also a generous and loving father to ten children.

“Sometimes, I also don’t know how I manage ten children. Without the support and love of my wonderful wife, it would be impossible,” SSgt Jailani smiles lovingly at his wife Rohana of 11 years.

His youngest child is five years old and SSgt Jailani calls himself the luckiest man on earth to have a supportive wife.

During the tough 28 hour DART selection, Rohana was supportive of his ambition but was saddened as she knew how physically and mentally drained SSgt Jailani was that week.

“My children too adore my work, they are proud of me and I share some experiences with them like the road traffic cases I attend to – to help them understand the importance of road safety. But the difficult and gruesome cases I will not share as I don’t want to worry them,” says SSgt Jailani.

Having ten children who are understanding and mature has made parenting a little more easier for Jailani and Rohana.

The family enjoys simple outings the beach, playing charades and having BBQ sessions. 

All 12 members of SSgt Jailani's family poses for a fun shot at their chalet. PHOTO: Joanne

“The good thing about having so many children is you never run out of games to play or have any lack of players!,” quipped SSgt Jailani.

Having a passion for saving lives seems to run in the family as SSgt Jailani’s eldest son Muhamma Nazirul Rasyad signed on with the Civil Defence Auxilliary Unit after finishing his National Service with SCDF as a Medic.

His twin sons Nurul Rusydi and Nurul Rifdi have also served their national service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Singapore Police Force (respectively) and are considering a full time career with the Singapore Civil Defence Force. 

"I think we are inspired by our father, he will sometimes share experiences with us. Once, we even turned out for the same incident together when I was still serving my NS," says Muhammad Nazirul, 24, Nursing Student with Nanyang Polytechnic. 

Nazirul has been serving with the Civil Defence Auxilliary Unit as a Medic for two years and he wants to continue saving lives even after his Operational Ready Date (ORD). 

"During one fire incident at the Yishun Industrial area, my father and I were attending to the same case. It was quite exciting knowing that both father and son were doing our part," Said Muhammad Nazirul Rasyad, who served his National Service with the SCDF and continued service as a volunteer medic with the Civil Defence Auxilliary Unit. PHOTO: Joanne

Having to raise so many children in Singapore is a formidable feat but it does not come without challenges.

“Finance is of course the toughest, I don’t need to explain more as Singapore is the most expensive city in the world,” jokes SSgt Jailani who lives in a 5-room flat with his family. 

His wife Rohana has given up her job to be a stay-home mother to look after her children.

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