Joy In The Darkest Valley

Uncle Joe and Auntie Naomi (not their real names) have lived in Singapore for over 60 years, but neither of them have secured citizenship. At 80 years old, Uncle Joe was still working to support his wife and their 11-year-old grandson. However, one day he fainted at his workplace and had to be hospitalised. The cause of his affliction turned out to be fourth-stage lung cancer. His case was referred to New Life’s Project Love for financial assistance.

Uncle Joe had previously applied for assistance at other social service agencies, but felt like the application process had many barriers to entry. Uncle Joe felt that as long as he is able to work, he would not want to rely on financial assistance. After a period of treatment at NUH, his condition stabilised enough for him to continue working. As Uncle Joe’s employment terms only provided him with seven days of paid MC, New Life provided the couple with assistance to cover the loss of income during his hospitalisation.

During the assistance period, New Life connected Uncle Joe with volunteer befrienders and worked closely with other services to help the couple with their rental apartment matters. As Uncle Joe was given a prognosis of two years, New Life also provided casework management support to explore end-of-life care.

When Uncle Joe’s health deteriorated in early 2023, he agreed to apply for long-term financial support under Social Service Office (SSO). New Life’s social worker supported Uncle Joe through the whole process of application, helping him overcome the barriers he faced, such that SSO approved to support the couple’s basic living expenses. The volunteer befrienders also chipped in to provide the couple with appliances once HDB had allocated the latter a rental flat.

No longer needing to work long hours to support his household, Uncle Joe now had peace of mind to consider other matters in life. He had time to spend with his wife, make preparations for end-of-life, and even explore his spirituality.

The practical help, home visits and important conversations that volunteers and staff had poured into the couple’s life brought comfort and love to their difficult circumstances. These conversations also helped Uncle Joe and Auntie Naomi to reframe their story and find joy in a tough season of life.