Another Week Beyond – 2133

Dear friends,

A month ago, I was with a locksmith at about 10 pm fixing the locks of the gate and main door of a flat. While the gate could still be secured with a padlock, the wooden door behind it could not be locked from the outside. The locksmith was very skillful, and both the gate and the door could be secured from the outside when he left. This was a small gesture to reduce the anxiety of a mother who feared that her home would be damaged when no one was home.  The bigger fear though was the safety of her family should they forget to latch the door from the inside when they are home.

This mother has chalked up debts with both an illegal and a legal money lender and she has been receiving threats from the former. Apart from providing concrete practical help and supporting sound decision making, we have no expertise or resources in helping people to clear their debts. As such, we are very grateful to be working together with Adullam Life Counselling, a non-profit agency that acts as an intermediary between the debtors and their legal creditors by negotiating a possible repayment plan. They also provide advice and crucial support to those who are troubled by illegal moneylenders. 

Under Adullam’s guidance, this mother has agreed to begin clearing her debt with the licensed money lender. She hopes that in due course, the creditor will be willing to negotiate ending the debt when her monthly interest covers the principal sum borrowed.

This week, we also referred a young man to Adullam. He owes moneylenders and banks, and he has been avoiding his creditors the past 2 years. However, he approached us for help saying he wanted to get married and to start life afresh. He has now signed an agreement to start paying the moneylenders but the negotiation to reduce his debt can only start after 6 months, when he has demonstrated a commitment to pay.

Perhaps, it would cross our mind that those in debt have been reckless managing their money. However, if we are unable to suspend this thought, it would be difficult to appreciate the circumstances or the plight these people are experiencing. The mother whom we helped, borrowed to pay off her car rental as she wanted to keep her job as a private-hire car driver. Business was bad and she reckoned that she needed to work harder. Unfortunately, this led to a fatigue-induced accident that piled up her financial difficulties.

As for the young man, he initially borrowed money to help his grandma with household bills. He soon found himself in the vicious cycle of borrowing to pay back previous loans. He estimated that it will take 8 years to clear all his debts and is worried he would not be able to do so. Nonetheless, he is determined and agreed to meet and learn from another young man who had been in similar circumstances.

When we have less in the first place, there is a strain on our decision-making abilities and poor choices may be the only ones we can see in front of us. 

Wishing you good health and peace of mind.

Gerard

“Being poor, for example, reduces a person’s cognitive capacity more than going one full night without sleep. It is not that the poor have less bandwidth as individuals. Rather, it is that the experience of poverty reduces anyone’s bandwidth.” ― Sendhil Mullainathan

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Another Week Beyond – 2427

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Another Week Beyond 2426 – Grizzly to Teddy

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Another Week Beyond – 2423

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PAST AWB POSTS

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by: Chia Jie Min, Community Worker  Last Tuesday evening, Lisfah, our community enabler, and I set up our usual table at the student care centre for the monthly “tabung” (savings) programme at Lengkok Bahru. We waited with anticipation for the usual buzz of mothers dropping in to sit with us, chat and swap stories about community happenings.   That particular day, however, many mothers could not attend. So, it was unusually quiet. Lisfah was looking a little forlorn as she was looking forward to catching up with her neighbours. She always found her conversations with them comforting as they reassured her

Read more >

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By: Nina, Community Relations I met Atiqah ten years ago when I was a Community Worker. It was at a photography workshop we had organized for youths. She was a shy, soft-spoken 16-year-old. Her family had only recently moved in, so she didn’t know any other youths in the neighborhood yet. Throughout the few sessions we held, she mostly kept to herself, except when she offered to help me with minor tasks. Despite her discomfort being around others, she always showed up when invited to our programmes. I always admired Atiqah’s quiet determination and was pleased to see her slowly

Read more >

Another Week Beyond – 2427

No Wealth, No Health? Written by: Pei Ling, Community Relations How often do you find yourself in this situation? You’re unwell or in pain, and it’s been going on for while. But you choose not to see a medical practitioner because you feel you cannot afford it. This is a common scenario amongst Singapore’s financially-challenged – families living in rental public housing. And this is what happened to Ismail. When I visited Ismail on a routine follow-up, he was limping and clearly in pain. He told me he had a slipped disc. I asked about the medical treatment he was

Read more >