We Love to See You Smile

Mr Tan, Mr Ng, and Mdm Oh share their stories with us

Mr Tan was referred by the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP). His existing five-year-old dentures were a bad fit and affected his ability to eat properly. After receiving his new dentures, Mr Tan expressed his gratitude to the staff at SSVP and Mount Alvernia Hospital’s Outreach team.

Also referred by the SSVP, Mr Ng had never worn dentures and was having difficulty eating food that was hard and tough. At his first fitting, he required some help getting accustomed to biting down. When asked what he would like to eat after getting his dentures, he said that he could not wait to chomp on fried chicken!

Petite and frail-looking Mdm Oh was referred by Thye Hwa Kuan Senior Activity Centre at Toa Payoh. She had to have her loose tooth removed and full upper and partial lower dentures made. Upon getting her new dentures, she was overwhelmed with gratitude. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Thank you, Thye Hwa Kuan and Mount Alvernia Hospital Outreach for shortlisting me for this (the dental work).”

Having a proper set of teeth is very important as there are nutrition and health implications. Toothlessness often results in low self-esteem and causes a person to be reluctant to smile or communicate. In serious instances, it can even lead to depression.

Smiles for Good inspires us to bring lasting smiles to all.

Moving Forward in Strength

Mdm Suzy*, 29*, lives in a 4-room HDB flat with her 3 young children, elderly mother and younger brother who is unemployed.

Mdm Suzy is divorced. Due to family violence, she stayed in a shelter with her young children for a few months. Her ex-husband was incarcerated on numerous occasions for voluntarily causing hurt on her and her children, and he also has drug conviction records. Mdm Suzy had filed and taken out a Personal Protection Order (PPO) and Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO) against him.

Mdm Suzy was earning $1,043 a month to support herself and her family. To earn some additional income, she has been baking cookies and cakes in her spare time.

In early May 2018, Mdm Suzy was referred to the Society of St Vincent de Paul Singapore (SSVP) for assistance. With the collaborated efforts from the various member organisations, Mdm Suzy was provided with relevant assistance for her and her family.

Social workers from Catholic Welfare Services (CWS) and SSVP worked together to help Mdm Suzy manage her emotions and her family’s financial situation. She was given interim assistance by CWS and referred to SSVP for long term assistance.

SSVP volunteers (also known as Vincentians) provided Mdm Suzy with befriending and financial assistance. The Vincentians assisted Mdm Suzy and her family to move into a rental flat and away from her ex-husband.

Lawyers from Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) provided pro bono legal advice to Mdm Suzy on her bankruptcy matters.

Mdm Suzy requested for tuition assistance for her three young children; her eldest daughter, who was going to Primary 1 in 2019, was having difficulty in reading and her two sons had problems recognising words and numbers. Caritas Singapore found a suitable tutor for them through our Volunteer Management System who is an experienced kindergarten teacher.

This story was first published in Caritas Singapore Annual Report 2018.
*Details have been changed to protect the identity of the clients.

Strength through Adversity

*Linda’s husband passed on six years ago after contracting HIV, leaving her and their son behind. Unfortunately, she discovered that she had also contracted HIV from him. Linda had promised her husband that she would care for their only son and intended to fulfil this promise.

Linda and her son held foreign passports, although her husband was Singaporean. So, the flat could not be owned by them. Her migrant status also meant that she could not gain full-time employment. And her son attends polytechnic and will shortly be required to serve his national service and make a choice on his nationality.

They were referred to ACMI for legal assistance. ACMI enlisted the help of a pro bono lawyer and persuaded her sister-in-law to provide support and alternative housing to the mother and son.

“My son was a teenager when we moved to Singapore… when I think of my husband, I resolve to do everything possible to ensure that he has a better future as that was my husband’s wish. No matter how hard it is, I will struggle to see him through.”

Her son is doing well in his studies, made possible through a bursary. His humour helps them through tough times. Once when asked to do the Offertory at Mass, they were asked if they were husband and wife. She responded that they were mother and son, and her son quipped, “See, Mom, I told you not to wear skirts like that.” She laughed, “I cannot help it… I can only wear what I get from the thrift shop.”

Due to the high cost of HIV medications and their growing financial demands, she decided on her own to reduce her dosage. This affected her health badly, and she became weaker. Just as legal matters of the estate was settled, case workers noticed her declining physical state and investigated. Her doctors urged her to continue her medications properly and attend regular check-ups.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) together with ACMI and the social worker from a local hospital formed a tripartite network of collaborative support around Linda. They assisted with her obligatory medical costs and found a longer term solution to her financial and medical needs. The parish of St Ignatius stepped forward to help with the costs for medicine as part of their work of mercy for the vulnerable. Meanwhile a benefactor provided ‘groceries that were nourishing which eventually boosted Linda’s health, much to her gratitude’.

With the support of ACMI and other well-meaning organisations, hopefully both mother and son will be able to live a better life.

*Not her real name


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