Claudine Fernandez, Volunteer Writer, SCC
Imagine walking into the South Central Community Family Service Centre (SCC) and seeing a young boy leading a discussion among his peers on goal setting for examinations. That boy could very well be Shafiq, a bright 14-year-old boy with leadership potential. He lives with his father, Mr. Roslee, in a one room HDB flat in the neighborhood. His mother had left the family when he was very young and as such, he has developed a very close bond with Mr. Roslee.
Naturally, Shafiq was devastated when he found out that his father was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago after falling ill multiple times and being admitted to the hospital. This happened in the same year that Shafiq was sitting for the PSLE examination.
His father’s health condition, coupled with the stress of taking the PSLE examination and transitioning to life in a secondary school, took a toll on Shafiq’s emotional well being. He became a very angry boy who did not want to open up to anyone.
One day, Mr. Roslee came to the centre to ask for help. Everyday, both father and son lived in fear that something might happen to Mr. Roslee and he wanted Shafiq to be able to contact the centre should their fears come true.
The social workers from the centre tried desperately to find the mother, in the hopes that she would look after Shafiq when it became necessary. However, she could not be contacted. Shafiq’s aunts and uncles were also not ready to take him in.
Mr. Roslee’s condition continued to deteriorate despite the medical attention he was receiving and he was soon unable to work. As a result, they could not afford regular meals.
The social workers from the centre then decided to approach the Lim family for help as they lead reasonably comfortable lives. When Mr. Lim heard Mr. Roslee and Shafiq’s story, he felt for the boy, having three sons himself. He wanted to help in any way he could.
Soon, Mr. Lim and their eldest son met Shafiq and Mr. Roslee over a meal organised by the workers from the centre. Over the course of their conversation, Mr. Roslee asked Mr. Lim why he was willing to help him and Shafiq.
Mr. Lim replied, “I want to help because I’ve gone through hardship in my life. I know how it is like to struggle. Now that I have a good life, I want to help others. I hope my children can learn from this.”
“All I am worried about is my son having regular meals,” Mr. Roslee revealed.
Mr. Lim reassured Mr. Roslee that he would set aside an amount of money for this but was quick to remind him, “This is not to say that Shafiq does not need you. He still needs you to fight for your life because no one can replace you.” Mr. Roslee was grateful and relieved that Shafiq would be taken care of even when he was no longer able to provide for him.
Shafiq got along well with Mr. Lim’s eldest son, Ryan, and they bonded over similar interests like soccer. Ryan also coaches Shafiq in mathematics at times. Additionally, Mr. Lim has also taught Shafiq the value of saving money by coming up with a savings plan for him. As a result, Shafiq was able to buy himself a brand new scooter recently with the money he has saved.
Today, with such support from the Lim family, his friends and the members of the centre, Shafiq’s attitude has improved tremendously. Although, life is still challenging and uncertain for him, he is adjusting well in his secondary school and remains an active member of the centre.