Santha and Vikneesh have lived in their 2-room flat in Ang Mo Kio for 11 years. Their tenure there has been nothing but a struggle for Santha. Apart from trying to lead a normal life, Santha’s biggest problem was being unable to afford furniture.
Santha had only her kind relatives, neighbours and friends to depend on to obtain used or unwanted Furniture. Some of these furniture included an unwanted computer desk, which she uses as a TV rack, an old cupboard, which is now infested with cockroaches, and old mattresses that have long been worn out.
Upon arriving at Santha’s doorstep, the delight in her eyes was immediately visible as she walked out to greet us. Apparently, the helpful students from NUS had arrived earlier at her house and were keeping Santha company as she awaited the arrival of her new furniture.
Despite all the hardships faced, Santha never fails to keep her smile. She even went the extra mile to buy us a bottle of 100-Plus, which she served sheepishly with disposable plastic cups. She thanked us profusely as her new furniture was brought in one by one.
“I feel so paisei (hokkien for embarrassed) to have people over,” Santha lamented. She often feels reluctant in inviting neighbours or friends home due to the lack of basic furniture like a sofa, coffee table or bed frames.
Santha got married to her ex-husband in 1996 and separated in 1998 when Vikneesh was only a month old. Thereafter, she stayed with her parents until they passed away. She eventually got her current living arrangements in 2001, which also was the official year of divorce from her ex-husband.
Being the sole breadwinner of the house, Santha has to work long hours for 6 days a week. She wakes up as early as 4.30am in the morning and only comes home later than 11pm. She keeps up this working habit in order to provide for her 14 year-old son, who is currently studying in Presbyterian High Secondary School.
“Whenever I buy furniture, I always pay by instalments. Once I finish paying for a particular furniture, then I will start to buy a new one,” she claimed, as signs of grief formed in her expression. She added, “I can never pay for any furniture in full.”
NUS Community Project
Mdm Santha and her family are currently with HELP Family Service Centre, an organization which provides counselling and assistance to single parent families. It is through Central CDC, and subsequently through HELP Family Service Centre, that the students from NUS Community Project were referred to Mdm Santha’s family.
When asked what motivates their actions, Gim Hoe, a fellow member from the NUS Community project confidently and swiftly replies it’s “to help community”.
The group of students from NUS Community Project decided to collaborate with BEDS.sg when they saw the Free Mattress Program online. They feel that it is very meaningful to help needy families like Santha’s.
“Mattresses are the most crucial furniture in a household and your company has done the right focus because a person’s sleep is very important, and giving out mattresses helps needy families very much solve comfort and hygiene issues for their sleep,” Gim Hoe answered with praise when asked about what he feels about the Free Mattress Program.
Mdm Santha’s Delight
When asked about how she feels about the aid programme, Santha responded very positively and stated, “I am very appreciative about it…”
She paused to keep her emotions in check, before continuing, “It has helped me make new friends… friends very close to me.” She was referring to the helpful team of 4 students from the NUS Community project.
Among the furniture, BEDS.sg donated 2 single Divan Bedframes, 2 single Sepora Mattresses, an Astro 2-Seater Sofa, a Vita Wardrobe, and an Alibi Coffee Table.
Now Santha and her son can finally have a proper bed to sleep on, a proper place to store clothes, and finally a hall that looks complete with a sofa and coffee table. With these furniture in place, it’s certain that it will be much less of a shame for her to have guests visiting her house.
She waved to us profusely, overwhelmed with gratitude and ‘thank yous’ as we left her new humble abode.