Single mom’s heart-breaking struggle in Singapore

Irfan is one of three children of Madam Salbiah, whose story is told in the multimedia feature documentary "Growing Up With Less". (Screengrab from video)

Most women deliver their babies with blessings from their families, but Madam Salbiah Wahab gave birth to her third child alone in tears and in debt.
Her husband walked out on her barely a month before that painful day. She was saddled with her husband’s debts, payment for their five-room flat and three children to bring up. The then-housewife was at a loss on what to do.
Hers is but one of many stories of low-income families in Singapore. Despite the country’s stellar economic performance, there are still many who are struggling to make ends meet. 

Madam Salbiah’s story was documented by a group of students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University as part of their Final Year Project. Titled Growing Up with Less, the multimedia project explores the lesser-known side of cosmopolitan Singapore where government-built apartment complexes are littered with trash and soiled sanitary pads and your neighbour next door could be a drug addict.

The documentary focuses on the plight of children from low-income families where parents struggle to make ends meet leaving their children unsupervised, often hungry for food and affection and extremely vulnerable to bad influences.
Eventually, Madam Salbiah rallied herself for her children. The 45-year-old single mother is now staying in a two-room rental flat in Bukit Merah and upgrading her skills to find a better job.

Get to know her family's story from the videos below.

Financial Planning

We meet Madam Salbiah and learn more about her story.

Childhood Scars

Since his father left, Madam Salbiah’s son, 14-year-old Irfan Bin Abdul Aziz, has become very protective of his mother and sisters. He wants to become an engineer and buy them a bigger house.

Blogshop Business

Irfan’s sisters also nurse a dream of becoming successful business women. At only 10 and 12, they are already running their own blogshops selling toys and stationery to schoolmates and friends.

Social Worker

Helping the family through their tough times are social workers from the Association for Muslim Professionals, one of whom is Mr Saiful Nizam Bin Jemain.

'Growing Up With Less' is a Final Year Project by journalism students from Nanyang Technological University's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. Click here to see more of their stories.