The story of an underprivileged Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student has gone viral after it was shared on social media by Beyond Social Services – a Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) that seeks to aid disadvantaged children and youths.
In the post, the unnamed student describes the hardship she went through as a young child in primary and secondary school as she did not have money to take the bus to school nor could her family afford necessities such as a school bag. The young woman shared, “So, I put my pencils and books in a plastic bag and walked to and from school every day. I walked fast, so I could reach in 30 to 40 minutes. My classmates made fun of me for bringing a plastic bag to school, but I didn’t care. I wanted to study.”
Now in ITE, the young woman still faces financial difficulty. A friend from school had to help the girl top up her EZ-Link card as she did not have enough money to commute to school. Her difficult circumstances, however, has not deterred the student from doing well in school.
The young girl who is in an electrical engineering program revealed: “I have an exam tomorrow. I’m not worried about it, I know I’ll pass. 100%. I don’t have any textbooks, because we don’t have the money for it. I just listen carefully in class and try to visualise what the teacher says. It’s all in my head. Sometimes, before an exam, I will call up a friend and ask them to read to me from their textbook.”
Describing how she and her younger brother helped make ends meet even in their childhood, the student revealed what a tough life her mother had. Given up for adoption at a young age, the student’s mother underwent apparently suffered beatings and bullying in her childhood. At the age of 18, her husband abandoned her with two young children.
Concerned for her mother who suffers from anxiety, the young student ran away from the hospital after she was hospitalised when she began coughing up blood. She shared, “Last month, I was hospitalised because I was coughing up a lot of blood. I’ve had lung problems for many years now. The doctors wanted me to stay in the hospital longer, but I ran away. I wanted to be home, looking after my family. My mum suffers from anxiety, so I don’t like to leave her alone for too long. Because of her anxiety, she can’t go to work. We have to rely on financial assistance until I finish school and get a job.”
The student ended her sharing by revealing how people don’t always understand and give her trouble. Despite such discouragement, the student continues to persevere and asserts that she is determined to graduate:
“Sometimes, people give me trouble because of how I look, how I dress. They say, “why do you look like a boy?” A few years ago, I had to leave school because I tried to stand up for myself when a teacher taunted me about my appearance. People don’t always understand how hard it is to show up to school every day when you’re different, when you don’t have money. I used to go late to school sometimes because I didn’t have money for the bus. People weren’t always kind or understanding about that. But anyway, I enrolled again, two years later. I’m determined to graduate.
“My life’s OK lah. Sometimes, I get worried about things, but mostly, I’m OK.”
The student’s story has garnered an outpouring of support from netizens who were moved by her enduring attitude even as she faces such struggles. Several netizens offered to donate school bags, textbooks and even bicycles to the student. Some even offered to make cash donations and enquired about whether they can help sponsor the student’s transport fares.
The support pouring forth from netizens was so great that Beyond Social Services posted a comment saying that while they appreciate the people’s goodwill, they cannot link netizens to the student directly for privacy reasons.
The charity instead directed those who wish to help to the three funds they manage – namely, the Emergency Fund which offers short-term financial relief to those in need; the Educational Assistance Fund that supports education-related costs for an individual or a family; and the Financial Assistance Fund which offers mid-term financial assistance to the disadvantaged.
Beyond Social Services assured netizens that donations will go “directly to people in similar circumstances to the ones described in this story.”
To make a donation and impact the lives of disadvantaged Singaporeans, visit beyond.org.sg/donate.
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