When a single mother with 6 children aged from 5 months to 14 years old realised that she had a problem with bed bugs, she cleared out her furniture. Exhausted and distressed, she called us asking what more she could do to resolve the problem. She did not call just to ask a question, but to tell someone that she worries constantly about the safety of her children. She also said she found it stressful ensuring that her children finished their schoolwork with the one computer and 2 handphones that they shared among themselves.
While we will ensure that financial support and more computers get to her, we thought that they did not quite meet her need for social connection. So, we asked if we could pose her question on the neighbourhood WhatsApp chat. Within moments, helpful suggestions and responses started coming in. From pouring kerosene at the nest and protecting the sleeping area with leaves from the soursop plant or serai wangi which is Malay for lemon grass. Several also messaged us privately to ask if they could provide detergent, bedbug sprays and furniture. Some even responded that they would check with their friends who worked with pest control companies to see if they could help in their personal capacity.
The mother who called us was visibly touched by the prompt support from neighbours she hardly knew. We were also most heartened by the spontaneous show of support from people who already did not have much to begin with. However, this is certainly not to say that support from our larger Singapore community has not been forthcoming.
Never in our history have we experienced such immense generosity. We are deeply encouraged by the trust emplaced in us to ensure that families receive the financial assistance to remain stable during this difficult period. Hence, we have revised the target of our Covid-19 Family Assistance Fund to $2 million and it would support 1000 to 1200 families for 3 months.
We are also deeply grateful to have been white listed as a food distribution agency during the circuit breaker period and will do our utmost to ensure safety for all involved in our exercises.
Finally, we wish all our Muslim friends a joyous start to the month of Ramadan.
Wishing you and all at home good health and peace of mind.
“You often say, ‘I would give, but only to the deserving.’ The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” —Kahlil Gibran