Facing the World with a Smile

Santhy D/O Sankaran is a 51-year-young survivor in the game of life. A single mother, she lives with her daughter Tharani, 15, in a one-room rental HDB flat. Due to asthma and other medical issues, Santhy is not able to work. Singapore Red Cross' Family LifeAid programme has been providing Santhy and her daughter with supermarket vouchers. Santhy faces life’s challenges daily but with her daughter’s assistance and the support from Red Cross, she has not lost her smile and optimism. She has a strong desire to care for her daughter and the financial assistance alleviates her financial burden.

A Tough Childhood

A normal childhood that we all wish for our kids was denied to Santhy D/O Sankaran. She does not remember who her biological parents are. Her earliest memories were of growing up in a children’s home, and subsequently with a foster family, where she did not forge a strong rapport with her siblings. Despite fond memories of her friends in primary school, she was compelled to drop out before completing Primary 6 due to health issues. Santhy worked as a cleaner. Following her marriage, she was estranged from her adopted family, and eventually lost contact with them.

A Tougher Adulthood

Marriage did not bring complete happiness in her life. Santhy and her husband were divorced when she was pregnant with her daughter, Tharani. In a cruel repetition of circumstances, Tharani only met her father once before he passed away. Besides issues in her personal life, Santhy had health issues as well.

"I was diagnosed with asthma since birth. I also have several other health conditions, which impaired my mobility. I use a Personal Mobility Device (PMD). My health condition made me permanently unfit for work," she says.  

Braving Life Together

Every weekday, Tharani leaves her HDB flat at 5.30am. She participates in the Cadet Inspectors' Basic Training Course (CIBTC) conducted by National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) at the Home Team Academy. Santhy gets up early to help Tharani prepare for her course. Then she carries out her household chores as far as her stamina permits. Then she must sit and rest. 

"Due to my health condition, I am always at home. I only step out of my home with Tharani or someone else while on my Personal Mobility Device, and never alone. Two of my neighbours would help me to purchase food or some groceries," she says.

Tharani returns home around 7.30pm. She would usually stay busy till midnight before turning in. Even though this routine is challenging, Santhy hopes that Tharani will keep learning and offering her services to NPCC.  

Saturdays and Sundays are break days for her daughter. When Tharani is at home, they both go around the neighbourhood for fresh air. Tharani loves riding on her bike around her estate. 

A Friend in Need

Santhy receives financial assistance from a social service organisation that takes care of her rental, utilities and healthcare. Tharani’s course fees are also covered by another organisation.  Yet, it was challenging for Santhy to put food on the table for her family given that she could not work.

Fortunately, a social worker connected Santhy with the Singapore Red Cross in early 2022. Since enrolling in the Singapore Red Cross’ Family LifeAid programme, Santhy receives supermarket vouchers that alleviate her family's financial burdens while enhancing the family's social and emotional resilience.  

"With the vouchers, I can purchase necessities such as food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. This has helped my family a lot as we do not have to struggle to get these things anymore. Now we have food on the table," she says. 

Smiling at the Future

Santhy's aspiration is to see Tharani happy and successful in life. Her daughter loves sports such as playing badminton, and she is very keen to continue with NPCC. Santhy hopes Tharani will succeed in the career she pursues. 

"I am grateful for the help I receive from the Singapore Red Cross’ Family LifeAid programme. It has benefitted my family in so many ways, and improved my self-respect and confidence," she says. 

By Apoorv Bhatnagar, Volunteer
Copyedited by Kathryn Maung


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