Devi and her older sister Vani lost their mother at the tender age of just two and six respectively.
And for years, they endured mistreatment by their stepmother. They finally fled to live with a family member and her husband, who took them in despite already having to support five school-going children.
While pursuing a part-time degree, Vani had to work to support herself and Devi. Their names have been changed to protect their identities.
It is for needy students like them that a group of lecturers from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) are taking part in the 42km Ekiden relay during the Standard Chartered Marathon 2014 on Sunday.
The six NYP staff have so far raised more than $8,970 for the Mainly I Love Kids (Milk) Fund, which reaches out to disadvantaged children and youth, through the marathon's Run for Good movement, which uses GIVEasia.org as a fund-raising platform to help people in need.
Devi has benefited from the fund, with a Milk scholarship covering all the course fees for her Diploma in Nursing course at NYP, and related expenses such as acquiring textbooks and transport.
Vani later received the same support from the fund and has since graduated.
Azhar Abdul Salam, one of the six staff taking part in the marathon, said they decided to help young people like Devi and Vani because they "believe strongly in education".
"It's the very least we can do to help these underprivileged kids," said the deputy manager and senior lecturer of the Diploma in Mass Media Management course.
He is also the brains behind the NYP fund-raising effort.
While Mr Azhar said his team does not have a fund-raising target, he is hopeful they can raise $9,000, but is less certain of hitting the $10,000 mark.
"We are thankful that we know a lot of generous people who are willing to give, and very happy that there will be children who stand to benefit."
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