SINGAPORE - Middle child Jessie Lim may be just 16, but the duty of caring for her family rests on her shoulders.
Her brother, 19, has ankylosing spondylitis, a condition which causes pain and swelling of the joints, while her sister, 14, was diagnosed at birth with biliary atresia, a liver condition which means frequent visits to the hospital.
Mature for her age, Jessie is often tasked with the household chores and caring for her sister. Although she was also busy with school and co-curricular activities (CCAs), she never complained.
Yesterday, the Pasir Ris Secondary School student received her O-level results, accompanied by her mother and sister with much anticipation.
They were not disappointed - Jessie scored six As and two Bs, which gave her 11 points for L1R5 (English and five relevant subjects).
She said: "There were times when I felt stressed because there were many things to juggle, from school to CCA to my family. But I had a goal in mind and just worked hard towards it."
Her sister, Stella, a Secondary 3 student at the same school, said: "I'm very happy for her because I saw how hard she studied." Her mother, housewife Lim Chaun Song, 50, said that Jessie has been a model student from a young age.
From Primary 1, Jessie, who did not have tuition, had been receiving Edusave Merit and Scholarship awards, which are for students with good academic results.
Last year, she also got the Edusave Eagles and Character awards for her leadership and exemplary character.
The money from the awards came in handy as her family is not well-off. Her father works odd jobs and Jessie is under the Ministry of Education's Financial Assistance Scheme.
"Jessie is very mature and very thrifty. Sometimes, she doesn't even eat during recess," said Madam Lim.
In response, Jessie said with a laugh: "I wasn't hungry anyway."
Jessie is close to her sister, caring for her during her frequent fevers because of her medical condition. She also coaches Stella in mathematics and science. "When they were younger, they held each other and cried when Stella was sick," Madam Lim said.
The close-knit family will be celebrating Jessie's good results at a coffee shop near their four-room flat in Tampines.
Jessie plans to go to a polytechnic, where she will pursue either business or the sciences. "I need to work hard so that I will be able to find a good job to support my family," she said.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 34,124 number of candidates
- 99.9 per cent of candidates awarded certificates
- 82.7 per cent of candidates with five or more O-level passes
- 4,170 number of Normal Academic candidates
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