While most married couples have their spouses to turn to for financial and emotional support, 46 year old Madam Vnilla struggles to care for her three kids alone (age 13, 6 and 4) without her husband by her side. Her husband, a Malaysian, works as a security officer in Malaysia and earns less than S$500 a month. $300 goes to Madam Vnilla for the daily expenses, leaving him with less than $200 for his own living expenses. In 2015, Madam Vnilla’s husband was suspected of entering Singapore with health products containing illegal drugs, which he had brought in under the influence of his friends. Since the incident, he has been unable to enter Singapore and the family of five has been living apart. However, he has been appealing for a long-term visit pass in hope for the family to be together once again.
When ROHI visited Madam Vnilla at their two-room rental flat, their home was put together with old furniture discarded by her neighbours. Madam Vnilla told us that with the space constraint, putting a bed would simply mean having a smaller walking space for everyone. Hence, all of them have been sleeping on mattresses for the past years. The whole family uses a steel cabinet as a wardrobe, which was discarded by their neighbours. With the dim lighting at home, the environment is unconducive for studying.
The family’s finances worry Madam Vnilla greatly, but she does not know who to approach whenever she needs help. She is worried that the outstanding bills owing to the Housing Development Board (HDB), Town Council, SP Group as well as the various telecommunication companies amounting to about $3,700 would snowball into debts that she would never be able to repay in the near future.
With the huge amount of debts to worry about, Madam Vnilla often ends up neglecting her eldest son who is struggling with his studies. With the extremely limited finances at home, going hungry in school has become a norm for the 13-year-old, who is from Madam Vnilla’s first marriage. While other children of his age get to enjoy luxurious Mac Donald’s breakfast and even healthy cereals before school, there are days when the boy only gets to enjoy one or two meals a day, and that to him, is an extravagance at the expense of the something else which might have otherwise benefitted his siblings instead. Hence, he does not request for brand new stationery for his school and chooses to save the money on his siblings.
No matter how starved he may be, the sensible child has never complained about having to give up things which he deserves, because he loves his siblings deeply. His self-sacrificial love for his siblings touches Madam Vnilla, and she is relieved to have him helping out with the household chores. Although she is concerned that he may be malnourished, her hands are also tied with all the debts the family are in today. For now, Madam Vnilla’s only wish is to slowly repay the outstanding arrears so that her children do not need to live in poverty forever.
ROHI would like to raise $1,050 ($350 x 3 months) to defray Madam Vnilla’s expenses for groceries, as well as her eldest boy’s allowance and transport. Your kind contribution will go a long way towards lightening the financial burdens for Madam Vnilla!
02 Apr 2018
Painting and new furniture
A kind sponsor has recently reached out to us about getting a double-decker bed and wardrobe for Mdm Vnilla's family. A group of volunteers also painted her house over the Good Friday holiday. Thank you for giving Mdm Vnilla and her children a comfortable and cleaner place to call home!