Imagine being stateless your whole life and not having somewhere to call home.
When ROHI met Esther, the case managers were surprised to be greeted by her loud, flamboyant hair color. Almost immediately, she sheepishly told us that she came across a job posting on Carousell requesting for a hair model few weeks back. Almost without hesitation, she took on the job and agreed to the coloring of her hair so that she could earn that $50 for her living expenses for that week.
Esther, who is 35 years old now, shared with us that when she was just a child, her biological parents sold her off in the name of adoption to a couple who did not have kids. Little did Esther know that the relationship with her adoptive parents took a turn for the worst after they had their own kids. Esther used to hold the Singapore citizenship at the age of 12, being born and bred here. However, the lack of attention from her adoptive parents too, resulted in her being led astray. Since then, she has been sent to the Girls’ Home and was subsequently incarcerated for offences committed in hope to receive the love and attention from her adoptive parents, which she has been longing for. However, the estranged relationship continued on after being chased out of the home. Overnight, Esther was forced to fend for herself.
It was only when she lost her personal identification card one day did she find out that her citizenship was revoked because the mailers sent to her adoptive parents’ home were left unread. As such, she has also failed to take the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty (ORAL) which was compulsory at the age of 21 years to remain as Singapore Citizens.
Esther thought that her life would change for the better after getting married. But she did not expect that the marriage also marked the start of the physical abuse by her husband which has tormented her since 2011 until she left her husband’s home in February 2016. Since then, neighborhood parks became home to her. She moved from parks to parks, with no place to shelter her from rain and shine. She cited several tormenting incidents where he repeatedly banged her head against the furniture. The series of abuse have resulted in Esther suffering from permanent migraine. She also suffers from asthma, mild depression, as well as a medical condition of which her right ovary is bloated and was originally due for surgery in 2012. However, she had no choice but to give the option of surgery up knowing that there is no way she could afford the hefty surgery fees involved.
Life has not been easy for Esther since the revocation of her citizenship, especially after her husband walked out of the marriage after their daughter was born. Since she was declared stateless, she has been unable to seek employment and Esther has been trying all means to survive. However, after trying for the past 14 years, Esther has eventually exhausted her means and is at her wit’s end.
Quoting Madam Esther, “I just hope that someone can help me. I was born here and had lived here since I was born. It’s just unfair why I can’t live like a Singaporean”.
ROHI would like to raise S$270 per month for five months to defray Esther’s living expenses while she continues to appeal for her citizenship. Your kind contribution will go a long way towards lightening the financial burdens for Esther!
*Madam Esther is currently not receiving any public assistance support as she is stateless.
30 Aug 2018
The case managers met up with Esther yesterday to disburse her first cheque. Esther was extremely grateful for the funds raised, as any amount would be helpful to her! She is currently putting up a her friend's place as she is still appealing for her citizenship in hope of seeking employment. Esther shared with us that she is interested in doing home-based nail services so that she is able to sustain some form of income to support herself.
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Please stay strong. It’s the darkest moments we must be at our brightest.