Family of 9 who survive on $3000 monthly income draw both intense criticism and support from fellow Singaporeans


A local couple with seven children have sparked both fierce criticism and intense support from fellow Singaporeans after their story of how their survive on a $3000 monthly income was covered by Channel NewsAsia.

In a short feature uploaded over the weekend, the couple – David and Esther Heng – shared about how they keep their household running with seven young ones and the income David earns as a social worker and freelance tour guide bringing children to heritage sites.

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In the video, it is revealed that David’s salary goes fully towards the family’s monthly expenses and that his current earnings are $500 less than what the family need each month.

David revealed that his previous job took too much time and strained his relationship with his family. This, coupled with his passion to start his own business to conduct workshops for youths at-risk, led David to quit his previous job in March. David is due to start a new position where he will earn more than his former $2,600 salary soon.

Meanwhile, Esther is a stay at home mom who left her job as a secondary school teacher five years ago to raise the children – aged 16 to 3 – full-time. The family of nine live in a 5-room HDB flat and receive financial assistance from the Ministry of Education, Social Service Office, and Community Health Assist Scheme for expenses like conservancy charges, medical bills, etc.

The family also receive love gifts from their fellow church members who help pay for groceries and gift the family luxuries like trips to Malaysia, staycations and Universal Studios Singapore tickets.

While the family appear very close-knit and happy, some Singaporeans have criticised David online for being “irresponsible” and having more children for “selfish reasons” without fully considering how their limited resources will impact his children’s lives:

Several others expressed their support for David and Esther and applauded them for raising well-behaved children despite the difficulties they face: