Despite working long hours as the sole breadwinner for her family of five, Madam Samsiah Halil, 53, cuts a cheery figure as she gathers her children for a photoshoot near her house in Bedok.
The security officer, who works 12-hour shifts five to six days a week, has been earn ing about $1,600 a month for her family of five since her husband passed away more than 10 years ago. She has four children: three daughters aged 18, 20 and 26, and a son, 12. The younger two became recipients of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund this year.
The pair are among the more than 10,000 supported by the fund each year. The fund, which provides children from lower-income families with pocket money for meals and transport, has been running for 17 years.
Her son, Lighthouse School student, Zainul Abidin Abdul Rashid, has a hearing disability and receives $60 a month from the fund.
Madam Samsiah is m ost worried about him and holds on to his pocket money as she is afraid he would be cheated.
Asked whether the financial assistance she currently receives is sufficient, Madam Samsiah said it is hardly enough. “What to do, I try my best. I cover here and there, cannot anyhow spend money.”
“My sister and sometimes my neighbour also give some food, biscuits or rice during gathe rings... My children also know our situation, and won’t ask for much,” she said at the void deck of her four-room flat. She is still still paying the mortgage on the flat.
Eldest daughter Nurrashidah Ab dul Rashid, who also has a hearing disability, helps her aunt at a school
canteen. This earns her about $600 a month, mainly for her own expenses.
The other two daughters, Nur Syafiqah Abdul Rashid and Ms Nurulhuda Ab dul Rashid are studying at Republic Polytechnic and ITE College East respectively. Ms Nurulhuda receives $120 a month from the fund.
Madam Samsiah has modest ambitions for her children. “I hope they can read, write, use the compu ter, and have other skills to help them find a job in the future.”
The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permissionBack