When this needy family received a second-hand Queen-size bed frame and mattress donation, they thought they’d been given the kind gift of a good night’s rest.
But as 47-year old Mdm Saroja Devi and her four children found, it wasn’t much better than sleeping on the cold, hard floor of their sparsely furnished two-room flat like they initially did.
The mattress was infested with bedbugs that left painful bites on her daughters’ every night.
Mdm Devi and her four children, aged 14-21, survive on Mdm Devi’s monthly income of $700/mth as a cook at a student care centre and her eldest daughter’s receptionist pay of $1200/mth.
Mdm Devi’s husband has deserted the family, leaving them nothing but a mountain of debt he’d accumulated. Things got so bad at one point that her second daughter had to defer her studies at a local polytechnic because of the expensive fees.
Faced with high arrears and debts, the large family sold its previous 5-room HDB flat at a substantial loss to move into a 2-room flat.
The family currently receives financial assistance the Singapore Children’s Society Family Service Centre (Yishun).
Living On Donations
Even after moving into their new home, the family couldn’t afford basic amenities such as beds, mattresses and cupboards.
The centre managed to secure some second-hand furniture for the family through donations from well-wishers and that’s when they were given the bedbug-infested mattress through an online hand-me-down charity portal.
Mdm Saroja Devi’s three daughters had shared the bed while she and her son continued sleeping on the floor.
Free Mattress Program To The Rescue
When this came to the attention of Mdm Devi’s social worker, Ms Cheng Pei Yun, she referred the family to the Free Mattress Program for assistance.
We contacted them within the week and gave them a brand new queen-sized mattress to replace their old one with bedbugs.
“The Free Mattress Program was very fast. I get their call one day, and the next day they send the free new mattress over,” Mdm Devi says.
Ms Cheng feels that the Program is a worthy cause to support.
“A genuinely needy recipient of the program doesn’t just receive a brand new mattress, but also compassion from the community at large,” Ms Cheng observes.
“Nights of good rest are precious to low-income families, who often find buying a mattress to be a luxury that they wouldn’t dare dream of,” Ms Cheng continues.
Mdm Devi is thankful for her gift from the Free Mattress Program.
“The mattress is very nice and comfortable. My children like and enjoy it very much. Now they can sleep peacefully,” she says gratefully.
(Photos of Mdm Saroja Devi and family are not published for their protection.)