Special Feature - Financial Instability during COVID19 times
We all know how difficult this period of COVID-19 is to many individuals and families alike. For those who are blessed enough, many of us take this as opportunity to try out new stuff at home, work remotely and take time to recuperate our tired souls.
However, is that the case for everyone?
This is Mdm Shar’s* story.
“Covid-19 couldn’t have come at worse time. My husband had just found stable employment as a cleaner under Sports.sg. I was also in the midst of supporting his income by working as Grab delivery person. I was waiting to be issued my e-bike from Grab, after sending in my bicycle.
But now, so teruk, I can’t get my e-bike until the Circuit Breaker is over, so I need to use other means, so that I can continue to try to earn some income for my family. Others might think that now you can earn more money as a grab delivery driver, but at most I can get 3-4 orders a day. This is about $20 a day that I can earn.
My eldest son, who is still studying, was initially helping to support the family income through his part time work at the Night Safari but is now not able to work since February.
Our family’s finances are now reduced, and we are concerned about how Covid-19 might affect us in the long run. I just hope that my husband can continue working. We have fears about Covid-19 and are concerned that we don’t know who might bring it into our lives.”
Financial Instability affected us even before Covid-19. We do not get a regular pay like others do, and it depends on whether there is work on that day. This makes it difficult for us to save. We normally plan and buy our groceries to support our families every 2 weeks. Some periods, we have to give up certain things that might not be as important as survival. This might mean that my children may have to skip schools on certain days because we have to focus our finances on food and basic necessities like our power supply and gas bill. Things have gotten better a while, with new work arrangements and income.
Then Covid-19 came.
Financial Instability makes it difficult for us to buy masks, hand sanitisers and other cleaning materials. The government has been helpful in giving out reusable masks, but my husband and 3rd son have not had the time to collect theirs.
I don’t have the luxury to be able to go to the supermarket do buy food in bulk. Because Financial Instability has been affecting my family for quite some time, our family had already practiced doing our purchases of food in the supermarket on a 2-week basis, this practice of planning ahead what to eat and cook for 2 weeks has been a useful skill in this difficult period.
In school, my main challenge is the children’s home-based learning. We can’t afford a laptop for studying. The school has been supportive in allowing my daughter to go back to school to do her work, but I am also concerned if she travels around when Covid-19 could be sneaking around. My sons were told that they can purchase a laptop but get reimbursement. But I don’t even have the money to make the first purchase, let alone get reimbursement.
How do we cope in such situation?
Working with what we have.
If there is not enough food, we work with what we have. Maggie noodles at home is fine. Sometimes the Family Service Centre can provide some food rations, we work with whatever is available. For the children’s home-based learning, we managed to get one tablet from Carousell for $200 based on assistance by the Family Service Centre. Sharing one tablet between 3 children for their home-based learning is challenging, but they take turns and support each other.
Tetap Bersatu (Staying as one no matter what) as a family.
Whatever the situation, we stay together as one, even though the situation is difficult. The children have seen how my husband and I have worked hard to raise them and bring money for the family. My children have seen their parents’ sacrifices and now they also help out with whatever they can.
It is important to seek assistance from the different avenues, so that our family can at least cope with the support we need. Seeking assistance is not easy, sometimes we need to manage the experience of shame. I take the risk of facing shame because I need to do what’s best for my family.
What we hope for
We hope that others can be aware of families who might be faced with financial instability whilst coping with Covid-19. Big families with young children, may face more difficulties during this period, and we need to think about how we can support them as a community.
We hope to be able to contribute to others in the community. We might not be able to help others financially, but we can always give back, by extending our energy. It might be hard to do so when we are trying to meet our basic needs, but we hope we can contribute when the situation stabilizes.
Although we are fearful that Covid-19 might affect us, we are also making sure we do our best to ensure that our children and families are able to meet their daily needs. We continue in believing in the hopes that we can survive through this Covid-19, even with the added struggle of Financial Instability.
This is a tough fight for many people in situations of financial instability, and all of us, as a community can do our little part to look out for one another, check out our neighbours over the windows and even a simple sharing of resources (contactless of course!) behind our doors, would make life a litte bit more tolerable for each and everyone of us.
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