Coping with poverty

Coping with poverty

It is the school holidays.

But instead of playing at the nearby playground, the four siblings are in the living room huddled over a Dragon Ball Z jigsaw puzzle.

They piece it together quickly because they have been piecing the same puzzle every day that week.

Their mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Salmiah, conceded: "I don't let them go out to play.

I always tell them to play with their siblings at home. No football, no badminton downstairs."

This is her way of keeping them safe from danger in the Lengkok Bahru neighbourhood.

The 31-year-old housewife and her family have been living in a two-room rental flat there for the past eight years.

This neighbourhood is one of the areas of focus in Under The Hood, a ground-up initiative started by social enterprise Syinc to tackle the urban poverty issue.

"At night, there are drunkards around. Sometimes there are fights and blood everywhere," she said.

Madam Salmiah and her family have also been victims of loan shark harassment.

So far, they have received hell money and threatening letters in their letter box, and also had their unit number scribbled on the walls at the lift landing. Her neighbour's wall was recently splashed with paint.

She found out that her eldest son, seven, picked up vulgarities and even used them on a classmate at a Mendaki tuition class.

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