Needy Singapore students get help for new school year
SINGAPORE, Dec 19 — With 10 children to feed and a pay packet of about S$1,600 (RM4,956.58), security officer Norjohan Buniran, 42, must think twice about buying a school bag for each of his schoolgoing children.
So yesterday was a happy affair for his family when they received six personalised school bags, which came with S$50 worth of Popular vouchers each, as part of the Pack My Backpack initiative to help vulnerable families got ready for the new school year.
Organised by Sembawang Community Club’s youth executive committee (YEC) annually since 2014, the project saw 50 youth volunteers, community partners and sponsors come together at Riverside Primary School to distribute these items to over 160 students from 74 families.
“The cheapest bag would cost between S$15 and S$20 … so (now) we don’t have to put aside (money to buy the bags)… Sometimes the (situation) can get shaky, so (this) really helps,” said Norjohan, whose children’s ages range from seven months to 14 years.
In fact, his 11th one is due in April or May, said the Sembawang resident, who lives in a two-room flat.
He tries to budget a certain amount monthly to take his family for a meal to places such as McDonald’s, for quality bonding time.
Next year, beneficiary families might get different items, said Sembawang CC YEC chairperson Gillian Goh Pei Zhu, 26.
“It started as a way to help (prepare) children for the school year, to have something to look forward to,” she said.
“Months of effort are put in place to organise the event, such as conducting house visits to understand the needs of our beneficiaries, meeting potential sponsors and distributing food rations.”
Another beneficiary yesterday was housewife Rohana Mohd Rajab, 46, who has three schoolgoing children aged 11, 13 and 16.
“One bag is very expensive … So when they get a new bag, they all get very happy and excited,” she said.
Her daughter Nur Amirah Hashim, 16, a Secondary 4 student at Admiralty Secondary, added: “(Sometimes) it can get very difficult; we’ve got to wait (to save enough) or borrow from friends to (buy extra things).”
Getting a chance to help families like these is rewarding, said Goh.
“It’s the process of getting to know the residents, in helping them as a community and seeing the children progress from primary to secondary school,” she said.
“(For some) their situation has improved, and they’d like to give back as well, which (is what) drives us.” — TODAY