Baking her way out of adversity

   October 12, 2015     8673 views

Although baking has always been Elaine’s interest, never did she imagine that she will be baking one day to make ends meet.

Elaine tied the knot with her husband when she was 21 years old, envisioning a happy future of family and home. That dream was soon shattered as her husband’s drinking habits, physical abuse, and infidelity started to surface. By then, two daughters have been born.

During a hospital checkup for suspected appendicitis, doctors broke more devastating news. The incidental scan for appendicitis had showed cysts in both ovaries, and cancer in the kidney.

She decided to go through a 10-hour operation for the sake of her daughters, despite knowing that she might not be able to afford the costs. While recuperating at her mother’s home, a distressed call from her daughter who witnessed her father’s dalliance in their matrimonial home strengthened her resolve to divorce.

It was the beginning of more distress to follow. Forced by her husband into selling their matrimonial flat, she was given only a tiny sum for her daughters’ insurance fees. Homeless, with little savings and ailing health, she was left to take care of her daughters alone. She soon incurred debts of daily living. A new diagnosis of another tumor in the liver pushed her to breaking point.

With no one else to turn to, Elaine finally sought help in 2012 for employment and assistance. She was referred to MWS Covenant Family Service Centre (CFSC).

Due to her health issues, Elaine was not able to take up jobs requiring her to sit or stand for prolonged periods, or lift heavy goods. As she needed to take care of her daughters, having a full time regular job was also out of the question. Through concrete support and counsel from her Social Worker, Elaine began to offer cooking and baking services that allowed her to control the workload and keep a flexible schedule. The small income earned gradually relieved her financial burdens, and boosted her self-confidence.

Through MWS 360° multi-programme approach, Elaine was provided with financial assistance and her children with bursaries to meet their educational needs. CFSC also secured various baking supplies and a new oven for her to start a small enterprise.

Today, while life is still difficult, she feels more positive to overcome her difficulties, with the support of social workers, friends, and her children. She is also giving back to the community, volunteering at CFSC, to support and help other single mothers living with similar situations. 


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This article was first published in Uncommon Voices 2015 Issue 2.