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Equitable Opportunities for Vulnerable Groups

New Life for Widow

By her own admission, widow Tan Boey Tin has found new strength to care for her ailing daughter and anguished grand-daughter.

Thanks to support from Moral Family Service Centre (Bedok North FSC), a programme funded by Tote Board Social Service Fund and supported by Community Chest, the 66-year-old woman got over her aggravated depression because of family problems.

“I just could not cope with the many problems I faced at home, from troubled finances to family relationships that I even thought of ending my life,” says Madam Tan, in a spattering of Mandarin and Malay.

Tote Board Chief Executive Mr Tan Soo Nan said the TBSSF (Tote Board Social Service Fund) provides grants to critical and strategic social service programmes, new programmes, capability enhancement and capital funding for the social service sector.

"It aims to alleviate the fundraising burden of Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) and enable them to focus on service delivery, service standards, and the outcomes for the clients they serve,” he says.

"Madam Tan's case that was handled by the Moral Family Service Centre (Bedok North) is one of many success stories of how productive the TBSSF has been in recent years."

Madam Tan’s fishermonger-husband died in 2001 and for the past three years, she moved from her rented Chai Chee flat to be with her only daughter, 42, and grand-daughter, who is in Secondary Two. (Both declined to be named for personal reasons).

Madam Tan’s daughter was diagnosed with early onset dementia and had stopped work as a property agent since 2007 after a serious fall due to an epileptic seizure. Her condition has deteriorated and in Madam Tan’s words, “she very often forget what had taken place a short moment ago, and at times behaves like a child”.

“She is receiving treatment but has been certified unfit for work for a long period,” says Madam Tan, who also has two sons.

“I went through a very difficult period and with continuing financial problems, I went to the Moral FSC at Bedok North for help,” says Madam Tan, who was a nanny, a hotel chambermaid and cleaner, for two decades, before retiring in 2005 because of age and poor health.

The FSC arranged for regular counseling for Madam Tan and her daughter “to better manage their emotion and relationship” and to “cope with her distress as an aged care-giver”. They also received financial assistance from the CDC (Community Development Council) and CDAC (Chinese Development Assistance Council).

“I must thank the FSC counsellors who showed me the right way to change my overall approach as a care-giver. My relationship with my family and new social networking circles with neighbours have really improved,” says Madam Tan.

She completes this interview in a humble prayer-like fashion:

“The FSC is like a new blessing in my life,” she says. “I’m able to return to society and to be a more helpful and responsible person in many ways.”

* Community Chest was established in 1983 with a simple yet vital mission: to raise funds for the nation’s many charities. It is about raising funds from the community for the community in need. Charities supported by Community Chest are then able to do what they are best at – providing critical social service programmes. Community Chest raises funds on a yearly basis to meet the needs of the social service programmes that we support. These programmes help to nurture children to succeed, dignify the lives of the elderly, keep families together and help people with disabilities lead independent lives.

The Moral Family Service Centre (Bedok North), which started in 2004 as a community project by Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society, is a community-based focal point of family resources, which anyone can turn to for social support. They offer professional multi-dimensional services for individuals, families and communities through holistic and innovative programmes that promote and strengthen the social well-being of families, and help them work towards self-reliance.

* Tote Board contributions towards Tote Board Social Service Fund (TBSSF) have been $322.8m for the FY 2006-2012.