Onward Singapore
Story written By Julio
R has gone through life with the odds stacked against her, yet she is still ready to rush to the aid of others. This is the paradox that my girlfriend lives.

Every difficulty in her life rests on the lack of family support. Broken families are one of the biggest social challenges today, but hers is especially broken: not only are they low-income, but her parents had a highly, dysfunctional marriage. As a result, she suffered much abuse in her childhood from her parents, relatives and strangers. Moreover, she effectively raised her younger siblings as a child — feeding, clothing and accompanying them at home while her negligent parents went out.

With a desire to teach, she was enrolled into the Early Childhood Education (ECH) diploma program at the polytechnic level. She also participated in several camps as a group leader and befriended with a wide variety of people who consider her as a trusted friend. She even went on mission trips within the region, seeking to touch the hearts of young people overseas.

Eventually, she managed to enrol into National Institute of Education (NIE) to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. However, her parents filed for divorce during her second year of studies. At the same time, she began to experience intense pain in her joints, until she could barely hold her pen to write without tearing up. Eventually, she developed pain in all of her muscle points as well. Moreover, severe insomnia struck, leaving her with three hours of sleep per night. Hence, she temporarily withdrew from her academic and church obligations to focus on recuperating. She was then, diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

In the face of all these challenges, she could have chosen to spiral downwards. Instead, she boldly went on her first solo trip to Cambodia to teach under Lutheran World Missions. The brief retreat rejuvenated her to face her issues head-on. And eventually, she returned to NIE for her studies.

All these had happened before I met her. Even when we began dating, she accompanied me to get a psychiatric referral for my own mental condition so that I would not feel so alone. Since then, I have seen how she continually offers a helping hand to her friends, and has compassion for the needy in our society such as the homeless people, foreign workers and elderly cleaners.

We have continued to face struggles in this life together as she strives to complete her studies by next year. Her inner character and beauty shines through moments of despair. She reminds me to continually put hope and trust in our faith and that we should encourage each other to take one day at a time. Her determination to live each day and care for others regardless of the life circumstances is what drew me to her in the first place, and has continued to draw me to her each day