All Mdm Julia Silveraj, 37, wants is a happy and stable family. The past decade, however, has been a nightmare for the single mother, who had to raise her two young boys alone after her husband contracted pneumonia and passed away.
With only an N-level qualification, Mdm Silveraj was unable to secure a full-time job, making ends meet through various part-time positions paying $8 an hour. Despite taking a four-month course in Healthcare Support (Administrative Support) at the HMI Institute of Health Sciences, she had difficulty landing a full-time job due to a lack of relevant working experience. She relied heavily on ComCare, a government assistance scheme that covers her HDB rental fees and conservancy charges. Still, her savings were minimal after paying for household necessities and other bills.
Mr Panneer Selvam, chairman of the Outreach and Social Concerns Ministry of Toa Payoh Methodist Church (TPMC), came to know of Mdm Silveraj’s plight last year, and helped her to apply to be an MWS Family Development Programme (FDP) client. Launched in April 2016, MWS FDP helps families living in poverty break out of the vicious cycle through holistic integrated intervention. Its focus is debt repayment and savings matching at a ratio of 1:2, up to $200 per month. Other supplementary components that assist the beneficiary in asset-building are monthly school support of $30 for primary and $40 for secondary students, and milk nutrition support for children and pregnant or lactating women.
While Mdm Silveraj used to struggle to save, she has amassed approximately $1,800 in her bank account since joining the programme in July 2017. “I was initially not interested in the savings scheme, but when I heard of the 1:2 matching component, I decided to give it a try. I surprised even myself as I did not expect to be able to save this much. I used to spend so quickly, but I’ve learnt that even I can save.”
Ms Jenny Chong, the TPMC volunteer overseeing her case, has nothing but praises for her. “I admire Julia’s discipline and resilience to build a better future for her children. I don’t think I have the same tenacity that she does.”
Today, Ms Silveraj has the courage to dream again. “I hope to be able to secure a full-time job in the future or convert to full-time employment from my current job. It’s my goal to purchase a three-room flat for my children. They are growing up and need privacy.”
Her new habit of saving has encouraged her sons, aged 14 and 16, to cultivate the same discipline. They have started to save, not just for themselves, but to honour and appreciate their mother as well. On her birthday and Mother’s day recently, they bought her flowers and treated her to her favourite fast food meal