SINGAPORE – Single mother Lim Siew Ching gave up her job as a waitress two years ago to care for her nine-year-old daughter, who has an eye condition affecting her vision.
Since then, the 31-year-old has had to rely on financial aid and donations to help meet her household expenses.
On Sunday (Feb 28), Ms Lim was among some 500 households living in rental flats in Jurong West who received a bundle of donated items from volunteers. They included rice, chocolates, crackers, as well as face masks.
It was part of the South West Community Development Council (CDC)’s Festive Cheers @ South West programme, which involves a series of festive activities and celebrations to bring cheer to families across the South West District. It kicked off last November and wrapped up this month.
“It really helps to reduce the financial burden I have to bear, since I’m the only one looking after my family,” said Ms Lim, who also has two other daughters aged seven and 13.
Festive Cheers @ South West, an annual programme, saw an uptick in donations this year, said South West District Mayor Low Yen Ling, who was guest of honour at Sunday’s distribution drive. The programme received donations in kind worth more than $600,000 in total, double the amount collected last year.
About 8,000 vulnerable households received donated items, which were sponsored by businesses.
“The groundswell of support from individuals, corporates and the community, is ‘Singapore Together’ in action,” said Ms Low, who is also Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth as well as Trade and Industry.
“The CDC will continue to connect communities and aggregate resources across society to strengthen our social fabric and build a caring and inclusive South West District,” she said.
The role of CDCs has, as of late, come under scrutiny. At the debate on the Budget statement last week, Leader of the Opposition and Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh called into question the need for CDCs and full-time mayors, and asked whether their role in the upcoming $100 CDC vouchers, which will be given to all Singaporean households, was a way to make them relevant.
In response, Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua said this accusation belittled the CDCs and their partners. She said that the CDCs’ “biggest mistake” was not better publicising their work, which includes assisting residents and mobilising businesses and others to help the community. She also said that of the five mayors, she was the only full-time one.
West Coast GRC MP Ang Wei Neng, who was also present at Sunday’s event, told participants of Sunday’s charity drive that the CDC is also involved in long-term programmes to help residents in the rental blocks.
For instance, Nanyang Sayang, a free tuition and mentorship programme for children from vulnerable households, is supported by the CDC, he said. “CDCs have been doing a lot of good work, but sometimes (this) is not well publicised.”