An Angel of Hope
When 39-year-old divorcee Mr Seet* walked into Family Service Centre (Yishun) in April 2014, things seemed hopeless. He had no job, no support, and his family had run him out of the house, so he had nowhere to stay.
He met Centre counsellor Shereen Masuthu, who assessed his case and helped him to apply for a place in a shelter. He then left the Centre, and went off the radar.
When Ms Masuthu tried to follow up with him a week later, he did not take her call. For the next four months, she kept calling – unsuccessfully. She even called his family and visited the family home, but he was nowhere to be found.
“I’d heard no news from him… but I held on to his case. I was worried for him,” she said, adding that she continued searching for a shelter vacancy during those months – and had finally found one.
It was only six months later that Mr Seet finally answered her call, and she got to tell him the good news.
He confessed that he had slipped into depression and, not wanting to depend on anyone, had been spending his nights in parks.
“He thought very lowly of himself and had thoughts of ending his life,” she recalled.
But the counsellor’s persistence had given him some hope. In their conversations over the phone, she advised him to improve his relationship with his family, and to seek help from a Social Service Office to upgrade his skills.
With her encouragement, Mr Seet took the first step toward mending his relationship with his family, surprising them when he showed up for his niece’s birthday celebrations.
His niece was overjoyed – her uncle had remembered her birthday.
By the end of the year, it was Mr Seet’s turn to deliver good news to Ms Masuthu. He emailed her to tell her he had worked things out with his sister, and that she had let him move in with her.
It was Ms Masuthu’s belief in him that had stopped him from doing anything drastic, he said in his message. “Thanks for holding on.”
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the client.