She is an example of smiling through life’s ups and downs
Yeni Zulaika, mother of four cheery kids, has been supported by the HCSA Dayspring SPIN network for single parents.
She is always smiling whenever you see her. Her children have adopted her special smile too. Their wide grins radiate warmth and optimism despite the hardship that the family goes through.
“I see what my kids have endured, and I ask myself, ‘If they can, why can’t I?’ I am strong because of them,” Yeni says. “Their smiles give me the power to do my best for them.”
These aren’t forced smiles. They emerge from a sense of gratitude and overcoming life’s crises as a team, as a family.
“I juggle between being a single mother of four children and my full-time job as a cleaner. It’s not easy, but I focus on being positive. I find joy in cooking for my kids; I feel motivated when we confront obstacles together; and I am thankful whenever we have fun as a family. We love the outdoors!”
Home Crumbled Before Her Very Eyes
As a permanent resident in Singapore, Yeni’s difficulty is in securing a home here.
The family, for a short while, resided in shelters and struggled to make ends meet. This was not the case at first. There was a time when they were worry-free.
“The most difficult period of my life came suddenly. My husband at the time, now ex-husband, brought a woman into our house. I was still pregnant with our fourth child. He started to lose interest in us. He didn’t care about the children or me, he didn’t spend time with the family. He went out with friends instead and enjoyed himself.”
Yeni tried to be patient at first, but his actions began to affect the whole family.
“I had accepted it if he no longer wanted our relationship. But as the days went by, when I stepped home after a tired day from work, I saw the house getting messier and messier. The cabinets and the bed were untidy. He made the whole house like ‘tongan terbalik’. This, I couldn’t accept. It was heartbreaking to see my own home falling apart. Till today, I wonder: ‘What did I do to you to deserve this? What did I do wrong?’”
A New Home, A New Beginning
Yeni decided that she had enough. She started channeling all her energy into giving her kids a better life. Her focus became laser-like. She divorced her husband and sought help.
“This crisis was not going to be the end of my life,” she says with full conviction. “No, it would be the beginning of my life for me and my kids.”
A social worker who attended to her case introduced her to HCSA Dayspring SPIN. The volunteer-driven network offered Yeni emotional, social and practical support.
Dayspring SPIN also found a rental flat for Yeni and family to move into – a home that they could call their own.
“The shelters were helpful, but they can be difficult for busy mums because we have to wait or follow a schedule to use the shared amenities. The rental flat gives my family and me a lot more flexibility, comfort and privacy. We can cook whenever we want and do the laundry at a suitable time. It eases many worries and bonds us closer together.”
Creating Wonderful Memories Together
In bringing up her kids, Yeni prioritises education and life values. She sends them to tuition and religious classes every week. At the same time, she also wants them to enjoy their childhood.
“I get worried if they aren’t having enough play and are overexerting themselves with schoolwork. I’m grateful that Dayspring SPIN organises outings and workshops for my children to take part in and have fun. I wouldn’t be able to afford these activities!”
Yeni was matched with Dayspring SPIN volunteer Jennifer, who watched out for the family and celebrated many special occasions with them. The annual Christmas celebration became one of Yeni’s favourite Dayspring SPIN events.
“It brought me joy to see the smiles on my children’s faces as they played with friends and eagerly opened presents,” Yeni recalls.
“Dayspring SPIN created opportunities for us to spend more time together. I hope that in the future, with these wonderful memories, my children will understand the importance of having work-life balance.”
Meeting President Halimah Yacob
Yeni can never forget the opportunity she had to meet President Halimah Yacob, who visited HCSA Dayspring in 2017, barely two weeks after being sworn in as Singapore’s eighth President.
“It was an emotional and significant moment for me to meet a Malay woman in a position of power. Her life is truly inspiring,” Yeni says.
“As a Malay woman myself, I understand the difficulties we have when we sacrifice our well-being for our husbands. But meeting President Halimah reminded me that it is possible for Malay women to do anything we put our heart and mind into.”
“I wish for women in my community to pursue our passions, to be strong women or mothers, to stop being too hard on ourselves and, of course, to keep sharing smiles with others throughout it all.”
A Living Example of Resilience for Her Kids
Since her case closed in 2019, Yeni has become an alumni member of Dayspring SPIN. She has participated in Dayspring SPIN events such as Mother’s Day, family holiday activities and sharing her life story with others. She is grateful to Dayspring SPIN for extending care to her even after the closure of her case.
Her life story speaks of her character, determination and strength as a devoted mother who desires only the best for her family. The closeness that they share is evident in their loving interactions among one another.
“Like every mother, I want to see my kids grow up to be happy, independent, good people and successful in their unique ways. I hope my life shows them that it is possible to overcome struggles with tenacity and a positive attitude.”