*Linda’s husband passed on six years ago after contracting HIV, leaving her and their son behind. Unfortunately, she discovered that she had also contracted HIV from him. Linda had promised her husband that she would care for their only son and intended to fulfil this promise.

Linda and her son held foreign passports, although her husband was Singaporean. So, the flat could not be owned by them. Her migrant status also meant that she could not gain full-time employment. And her son attends polytechnic and will shortly be required to serve his national service and make a choice on his nationality.

They were referred to ACMI for legal assistance. ACMI enlisted the help of a pro bono lawyer and persuaded her sister-in-law to provide support and alternative housing to the mother and son.

“My son was a teenager when we moved to Singapore… when I think of my husband, I resolve to do everything possible to ensure that he has a better future as that was my husband’s wish. No matter how hard it is, I will struggle to see him through.”

Her son is doing well in his studies, made possible through a bursary. His humour helps them through tough times. Once when asked to do the Offertory at Mass, they were asked if they were husband and wife. She responded that they were mother and son, and her son quipped, “See, Mom, I told you not to wear skirts like that.” She laughed, “I cannot help it… I can only wear what I get from the thrift shop.”

Due to the high cost of HIV medications and their growing financial demands, she decided on her own to reduce her dosage. This affected her health badly, and she became weaker. Just as legal matters of the estate was settled, case workers noticed her declining physical state and investigated. Her doctors urged her to continue her medications properly and attend regular check-ups.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) together with ACMI and the social worker from a local hospital formed a tripartite network of collaborative support around Linda. They assisted with her obligatory medical costs and found a longer term solution to her financial and medical needs. The parish of St Ignatius stepped forward to help with the costs for medicine as part of their work of mercy for the vulnerable. Meanwhile a benefactor provided ‘groceries that were nourishing which eventually boosted Linda’s health, much to her gratitude’.

With the support of ACMI and other well-meaning organisations, hopefully both mother and son will be able to live a better life.

This story was first published on CARITAS’ website. ACMI aims to help migrants in Singapore to meet both their emotional and spiritual needs.

*Linda is a pseudonym.

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