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Jobless PMET gave up job searching to take care of cancer-stricken teacher friend

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By: Eric

How do I survive without a full-time job in Singapore?

As we know, Singapore unemployment rate rose to 2 percent in June, but that’s not counting the underemployed, discouraged workers and economically inactive. The Ministry of Manpower Singapore is following international practice, which allows them to benchmark labour market performance against other countries.

So here is my story, how did I survive Singapore without a full-time job?

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I was between jobs in late 2011, having worked in the public and private sector for 16 years.

I took time off to decide my next career path. Just when I was about to start actively looking for a job because I was ready for work, an old friend of 14 years called me.

He was hospitalized and didn’t know what to think of it, so I rushed to his bedside at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. It was a frightening experience for him because he couldn’t breath the night prior.

Since I wasn’t working, I attended to him that entire week at TTSH. I still remember the text message he sent me when he received the diagnosis from the doctor, and my heart sank. He had final stage lung cancer. So I became economically inactive for the next 2 to 3 years.

According to the House of Commons, the main economically-inactive groups are students, people looking after family and home, long term sick and disabled, temporarily sick and disabled, retired people and discouraged workers.

They are considered outside the labour force. I had no prior experience in caregiving, but because I was the only one who was available, I became his caregiver by choice. The entire journey was nerve-wrecking as well as rewarding for the both of us.

We started a Cancer We Care outreach program which eventually saw a small support group forming in Bedok area.

Since I have no income, I depended on his income as a teacher. He took a leave of absence from work to focus on treatments. After about 8 months of intense chemotherapy, his cancer marker fell within tolerable range as the tumors were fast disappearing from his body; except what was left in the bones. He was diagnosed in July 2012, and he went back to work in Jan 2013.

Returning to workforce is like returning to normalcy, unfortunately, the cancer came back in June the same year. Fighting cancer the second time was different from the first time, because by then, we were both showing signs of fatigue but we didn’t give up. We fought to the end.

After 23 months of tears, joy, sweat, cheers, ups and downs, he passed away peacefully on 22nd June 2014. I was able to pay for the bills like the electricity and phone initially because I sold many of my personal things I don’t really need to make ends meet; but it was getting tougher in recent months on my $8.50 per hr, 1 to 6pm, Monday to Friday part-time job.

So how I survive without a full-time job in Singapore?

By faith and hope that tomorrow will be a better day…


Republished from ‘Transitioning‘.

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