Mdm Tan’s childhood was far from ideal.
Having grown up at a residential home in the Salvation Army, self-dependency and survival were all she knew for the first 16 years of her life. After leaving the group home in her late teens, she was left to largely fend for herself.
The turning point came when she crossed paths with her now ex-husband and became friends. Eventually, out of the need for survival, the two eventually wedded, with the hopes of achieving a better and more promising future for themselves.
Harsh reality sets in
The marriage painted a fresh start for the couple, and Mdm Tan soon found herself tasked with the challenges and responsibilities of parenthood. Having to care for her growing family was difficult, more so with the constant struggle of putting food on the table at every meal. Despite the financial hardships of raising a family, she remained immensely dedicated to her role as a mother, even going as far as to work three jobs in a day just so she could provide for her children.
Recalling the periods when she had to face life’s obstacles alone, she remembers a time when she would cry at the playground below her rental flat to hide her emotions from her children. She shares: “Looking back, I don’t know how I made it through. None of my family and friends actually knew what I was going through. Perhaps I was able to survive the tough times due to the hardships I had gone through in my childhood.”
Due to the irreconcilable relationship with her ex-husband, Mdm Tan eventually filed for divorce and was left to tackle the challenges of parenthood and providing for her children on her own. Having braved through most of life’s problems on her own, she was resistant to confiding her struggles with friends, explaining, “After ending my third job of the day, I had no energy and time to do that.”
The turning point
It was only when her fourth child started experiencing troubles in school that she had no choice but to turn to a friend. In 2017, she was introduced to HCSA Dayspring SPIN (Single Parents, INformed, INvolved, INcluded), one of HCSA’s four signature programmes.
Following a detailed needs assessment, SPIN eventually matched her with Lead Ally Befriender* Sharon. Throughout Mdm Tan’s journey with SPIN – and even till after the successful closure of her case – she shares that Sharon still supports her by way of occasional phone calls.
Besides emotional and psychological support, SPIN ensured that Mdm Tan and her family were provided with necessary essentials during times of need, particularly during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. “SPIN provided me and my family with food rations and other essential items. Even during the COVID period, we received frozen food delivered to my home,” she said.
Mdm Tan is grateful for the support she has received from SPIN thus far. Through regular workshops and activities organised by the programme, she enjoys regularly connecting with other volunteers and fellow single parent members. The opportunities to gain new knowledge on topics that were more relevant to her as a single parent were also something Mdm Tan looked forward to.