Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Monday November 4th 2019

Deepavali special: 33-year-old mum of three kids struggled with diabetes, sick husband and homelessness

I felt bad making Usha meet me at the Chinatown MRT station as her preferred choice is at the Bukit Merah Polyclinic where she did her dressing for her abscess wound due to her chronic diabetic condition.

She ambled along to the spot where we are supposed to meet as her body is covered with at least ten abscesses – some as big as a small orange size.

“It’s causing me a lot of pain and I could not sleep as my whole body is full of them now!” she qulped as we settled for a nearby underground MRT cafe so she don’t have to walk too much.

Abscess is a painful side-effect of diabetes and hopefully she won’t need to go for dialysis which is the next phase if things do not improve.

She also has a set of missing lower teeth which she lost when banged into something accidentally. Apparently, diabetes also cause a weak gum and teeth do drop off easily with just a slight knock!

Blindness, amputation and abscess are all the horrific symptoms of diabetes which inflict at least 5% of the population now.

She needs to get regular dressing at the nearby polyclinic and can only travel by Grab due to her physical immobility which eats into her daily finances.

“Both my parents have diabetes and now my sister and I also have the same sicknesses,” she confided in me.

I told her that most likely her diabetic condition is a hereditary issue and she just need to do something on her lifestyle and dietary intake.

Her own medical predicament is compounded by the fact that her husband also suffers from a chronic lung infection which renders him to be unfit for work and in and out of hospital. She told me they will schedule their hospitalisation stay so that someone will be at home in case the children pay them a visit but she dreads the day that both of them will be in the hospital to treat their illnesses at the same time!

A prolonged entranglement with her mother in law led them to leave the house few months ago without a firm  place to go. The kids remained with their grandmother as the house is near to all the children schools.

A Good Samaritan took them in for a while before New Hope offered them a temporary place for six months meant for the homeless.

“I pay a small monthly rent for the temporary shelter flat and we all count our blessings as we try to get our own place with HDB in the near future,” Usha told me in between sips of coffee at a nearby cafe.

We met a year ago at around the same period before Deepavali when she messaged me seeking assistance and I remembered passing her an angpow as well so that she can celebrate Deepavali with her family.

Its ironical that a year after, her condition remains the same and I get to pass her another angpow prior to Deepavali.

I foresee that the days ahead for my dear friend will be difficult due to her medical condition and that of her husband. Both are certified unfit for work for a substantial period of time and Comcare could only provide for them for two months of welfare support of $850 each month.

The welfare will end this month and they need to reapply for welfare support again of which there will be a 6-week waiting period.

It will be a difficult waiting period for them as they do not have many other support to fall back on.

I wonder how many families are like Usha – there is no abled breadwinner and everything is dependent on welfare and goodwill of other people.

We can only wish her well and a speedy recovery and try our best to support the family whenever possible – there is also so much we can do here.

But on our part we are glad to have given the distressed family a small token of help through the Deepavali angpow of $100.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

Editor’s note: If you want to bless Usha and family before Deepavali please write in to or  Both the couple are Hindus and struggling to get back on their own two feet.

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