Ela, on Family Circles

Beyond Family circles

“I moved to Singapore 20 years ago from my hometown in Sumatra. I’m very lonely. I don’t have any family here and very little friends. Sometimes I even choose to work on Hari Raya because I don’t have anyone to visit. So I joined Family Circles because I know it would be good for me to meet new people and make friends here in Singapore. Family Circles is very helpful because we can raise topics to discuss, share resources and help each other. Some issues we have talked about are settling unpaid bills, how to increase our savings, how to use CDC vouchers, and even how to bake a cake! 
 
The first face-to-face Family Circles we had was during Ramadan (2022) after the Covid restrictions eased. I finally told them about my years of struggling to have my divorce officially registered here in Singapore. I have been struggling for three years with this problem, asking different organisations and following up with my social worker, going back and forth to offices and submitting letters that don’t end up being accepted. Without my divorce being registered here in Singapore, I am unable to apply for a new HDB flat and move out of this unit where I still stay with my ex-husband. During the Family Circles session, another woman who has experienced the same problem told me what I had to do. I was so happy. I felt like it was a Ramadan blessing. I feel calmer now because at least I know what I must do. I know I must find money, go back to Sumatra, register my divorce there, before being able to register my divorce here in Singapore.  
 
Many members in the Family Circles group I am in are also foreigners, so at least I know I’m not the only one who struggles with these emotions and difficulties. Many foreign women suffer a lot and have no choice but to just keep enduring, and many people don’t understand the kind of problems we have. Did you see the recent news about the Chinese woman who was slashed by her husband? She was a foreigner too. I wonder how long she endured and sometimes I wonder if I or my other friends may suffer the same fate.  
 
Family Circles has brought our community closer. Before this, we didn’t know we had neighbours who experienced similar challenges. Now we know each other better and have a better understanding of what each of us is going through, what sickness someone is experiencing, what their children are going through. When I received extra food, I knew that I could give it to a neighbour who has shared that they do not have enough food. I have somewhere to release my emotions now. My family is far away, even if I were to talk to them, they can’t help me here, and sometimes friends have bigger problems and don’t have the capacity to help. In Family Circles, at least there are people who have experience and can give me advice. I have friends in Family Circles, those who share the same fate as I do and together, we can share our burdens and stories. Thanks to Family Circles, now I know I have family here in Singapore.”

– Ela, community member and participant in Family Circles

__

Support programmes such as Family Circles so that members like Ela can continue to find meaningful friendships and community: bit.ly/bssbuildingblocks