I thought I could sleep, I really thought I could but I’m reminded of what happened earlier this afternoon.
A lady in her mid 30’s had come knocking on the door. I thought it was the lady who usually delivers the mail but when I looked through the peephole, I saw a lady with a young child in tow, holding on to a stack of papers.
The lady, looked stress and desperate. Her body was fidgeting, as if scared, her eyes, they had the look of desperation and in dire need and when she began to speak, it was the voice of anxiety, desperation and lost.
She asked that I listen to her case first before I decided on my course of action.
She began to share her story, offering me letter after letter and her NRIC and parents home address to verify the legitimacy of her story – a life of poverty.
She was living in a rental flat, her husband was recently hired for work and they haven’t had any money to pay the utilities for the past 6 months or more, and had resorted to ‘stealing’ utilities for 6 months before they were caught by the authorities who now demanded they make payment.
Financial assistance from the relevant departments were taking too long and they were running out of time and options. Member of Parliament Zainal Sapari had given her $100 to help her tide through, an amount barely enough to cover the amount for her utilities.
With two kids, one in kindergarten and another attending a primary school I had taught for two years, there was every chance that her child had been a student of mine. Needless to say, as she mentioned her child’s name, the many faces of the students I’ve met flashed through me.
I’ve seen many students. I’ve taught many students. I’ve heard some of their stories and I’ve seen how they live through their stories in school but I also know one thing for sure, every child that I’ve taught deserves the opportunity to an education.
Denying this lady what I had in my wallet, could mean that my ex-student could end up staying home, dropping out of school eventually. A case which I do not wish to see end up as just another number.
Preventing students from dropping out of school was the reason why I had began volunteering in the first place as a Mentor to ‘at-risk’ youths, one which lasted a good 7 years. Denying this lady my assistance, was going against my values, values that I had been taught by my parents, religion and teachers who have taught me.
Whilst my contribution wouldn’t be able to create any significant impact on the amount she had to pay, she had lesser homes to knock on the doors to beg for assistance. She could spend a little bit more time at home with her children, to help them, to protect them from the world that she braved to ensure water and electricity could still run in their home tonight, for her children to study.
Having had a bit more time to think through, I’ve decided that should I have the opportunity to bump into her again, I will offer her some of the programmes that my company runs for her kids and her family at no cost, I am also considering engaging her in part-time work for her to assist me to help provide her with a form of sustenance.
It’s not much but I really hope it might be able to help her.
If you are reading this, please pray that I will meet her again.
Pray that her suffering will be lifted.
Pray that her kids will never have to go through what she is going through.
Pray that she and many others like her, will have their burden lifted.