Sunday, August 26, 2007

[Blog Story] Of love and poverty

from Little Speck

An aged husband pushing his wheel-chaired wife 3km to meet an MP. By aidil.
Aug 25, 2007

A Meet-the-people's session (MPS) on Aug 1 was perhaps the saddest one I have attended thus far.

Sure, I have come across people who are stateless and seeking citizenship, HIV-positive persons, persons in really bad financial state and so on, but the special case that came before me today broke my heart.

This is a story of an elderly Malay couple alone in this world.

My heart raced as I had to interview the elderly Malay couple who looked like beggars, scruffy and tired.

The wife, 69 years old, was plump and wheelchair-bound. The husband, 75 years old, was pudgy, walked with a limp due to arthritis and wore loosely fitted shoes.

They live in a fully paid 3-room flat, which they bought many years ago. They only had one child. "Had" being the operative word. She/he died 2 years ago.

They live about 3km away from the MPS that I am stationed. The husband, with his bad knees, undertook, as a gesture of love, to always push his wife around in her wheelchair.

They don't take public transport because they cannot afford to and even if they did, they don't know how.

Not knowing the whereabouts of an MPS, they set off at 6pm today in search for the first one they could find.

They walked from location to location, asking people where an MPS is located. They finally ended up at my table - 3km from their house - at 8+pm.

Not having any money to take a taxi or a bus, the husband pushed the sick wife all the way with his bad knees.

The husband, being ill and old, is unable to find work. The wife, makes the best of her wheelchair bound state to sell packets of tissue paper. She brings in S$10 max a day.

With S$10/day, they have to pay for meals, basic necessities and electrical/water bills. But this has over time become unbearable. They needed help and thus they walked 3km to my interview table.

My heart broke when they retold their story of hardship.

All alone in this world, with their only child dead, they only have each other. Despite their state of poverty and helplessness, they still look on each other with a glow of love because they are thankful that at the end of the day, they still have each other.

It breaks my heart to know that they are surviving only on S$10/day. It breaks my heart to know that they are ill and sick. It breaks my heart to know that they walked for hours not knowing their destination.

But it's at least comforting for me to know that despite their troubles, they still have each other as best-friends and soul mates. The undying dedication of the husband to take care of his wheelchair bound wife uplifts my soul.

I did what I could. I couldn't bear to see them walk back 3km at 9pm. I gave them a lift home in a taxi - a ride, which they enjoyed, not having been inside a cab in years.

Tomorrow, I shall visit them after shopping for some groceries for them with Shaz. We'll see what we can do to help personally because we are not sure when the government's financial aid will come in for them.

My appeal to all is this: Be aware of those around you and help out when you can, especially when you have the means.

For instance, when you see someone selling tissue paper packets, please buy some because for all you know, that's their only source of income.

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