In November 2016, Madam Yati (not her real name) flew from Indonesia to Singapore for a brief respite. She was invited by a friend to visit and was hoping the short holiday here would help her sort out relationship issues at home, too. But the young mother was pregnant in her third trimester and thought nothing of it. She was surprised with the pain she felt and realised she was in early labour. Unable to reach anyone else for help, she went to the hospital and was immediately admitted for delivery.

The medical social worker at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital alerted Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI) case workers about her case inquiring if any assistance could be provided. It was determined that the mother would remain in Singapore for at least another month. ACMI contacted the Indonesian migrant support community and Befriender Ibu Josephine Handojo who was able to reach out to Madam Yati to provide her with support and assistance in consultation with ACMI.

The emotional and material support was provided to Madam Yati while in Singapore. The Indonesian Embassy assisted with accommodation, but there were also problems with her accessing the fridge at night to store the breast milk. Ibu Handojo would visit the mother and keep close contact with her to help her with advice, such as how to look after herself to ensure good lactation and when to express the breast milk for storage. She also helped her with getting the groceries to ensure she is properly nourished to improve her health and ability to lactate properly.

Her baby was kept in special ante-natal care at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and had to be fed by feeding tube for some time, and eventually a breast pump was obtained for the mother’s use to help with the infant’s supply of natural milk.

When she had to extend her stay because of the infant’s health, a cousin responded with the necessary support to sponsor her. Meanwhile there was some concern about the medical costs, which she was able to settle.

Both mother and infant continued to improve and were well enough by the end of the year to make plans for her flight home to Indonesia. The mother was very grateful to the Befriender Ibu Handojo who kept an eye on matters throughout with her personal touch and familial care.

She appreciated the friendship and support of Ibu and ACMI who had journeyed with her through this unexpected circumstance in life, away from home, and to welcome a new child into her family.

Learn more about the lives, experiences and situations migrants in Singapore, and what each of us can do to help welcome, protect, develop and integrate them.
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