The plight of Madam Sheila, 49 years old, who was born stateless was recently highlighted by a local newspaper. Her husband, Mr Peng, 75 years old, is also stateless and as a result, their 5 children aged between 21 to 29 years old were born stateless.
Life has not been easy for the family. As a stateless family, they receive no government assistance and subsidies. They were unable to purchase a HDB flat due to their status and spent a few years at a welfare home. It was only in 1999 when Madam Sheila received her citizenship after four failed attempts that they were able to rent a subsidised HDB flat from the Government.
Madam Sheila and her husband were also unable to afford the high cost of education for their children. As a result, two of her children did not complete secondary school and only one child completed N Levels. Madam Sheila used to pin her hopes on her son, David, whom she thought could serve National Service when he turned 18 and could therefore receive Singapore citizenship.
However, her hopes were dashed when David, now 22 years old, was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder five years ago. David also suffers from diabetes and frequent asthma attacks. Her husband, Mr Peng, suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney failure. He was recently hospitalised and required surgery. As a result, they have now incurred medical arrears. To make matters worse, their house is currently infested with bedbugs and they have difficulties meeting their basic needs.
Some days are especially difficult for the family. David said that on bad days where the family has no money to buy groceries, the family’s meal consists of only plain white rice and egg.
Madam Sheila’s hope now rests on Mary, 21 years old, who is the only one in the family to have completed N Levels. However, she has difficulties in securing a job due to her stateless status and her education level. Her application to join as a female recruit for the SAF was rejected and she expresses her frustration and dejection in securing a job.
A charity, Ray of Hope Initiative (ROHI) is aiming to help this family by raising $355 a month for four months for Madam Sheila’s living expenses along with bedbug spray for the family.
If you want to donate to this stateless ‘Singaporean’ family, you may follow this link to do so: https://www.simplygiving.com/event/MadamSheila.