Thursday, November 19, 2009

Singapore Nomads

These nights are real cold due to the incessant rain. How nice and cosy for one to cuddle on bed on such cool nights. However, as you cuddle in your blanket and enjoy these rare cold nights in Singapore, let us not forget those Singaporeans who are homeless and are now experiencing the cold and long night....

Though Singapore prides itself as a prosperous nation with 85% of our population having a roof over their heads, there is still the other side of the coin to be seen: a proportion of the population who is the homeless, the destitute and the very poor still exist.

For some months, I have been observing a number of homeless folks making their temporary homes out of void decks. I always notice this scene during night when a number of old and homeless men sleep on the same public bench or stool night after night. One old Chinese man is always sound asleep on a public chair around 9pm every night while another Malay man always sit on the same seat around 10 pm, and sometimes when I was at the void deck at a later time, say around 11 pm, the latter man was sound asleep, slumped on the seat, it is obviously that he is homeless and one of Singapore nomads.

I have seen the Malay man in a public institution, where he works as a cleaner from day to night. When night falls, he will retreat to the same void deck, sitting on a bench with his bag (presumably with his clothes and all necessities for a nomadic living). He will not be doing anything much, just looking around at the passer-bys walking. At times, the man will give himself a much-deserved treat, indulging in some late night snacks and bottles of soft drinks. These are what I call the simple pleasures of life. No matter how poor one is, one should always still make time to enjoy life based on the means he can afford.

I am not really sure whether these two nomads and a few other homeless folks I have seen were victims of the economic meltdown which rendered scores of workers retrenched. It may be likely as the two nomads appeared in the void decks around my estate after the economic meltdown.

While some Singaporeans who have lost their jobs are desperately looking for jobs, there are others who may have lost both job and a basic roof over his head, which may be worse. There may be also others who lost their jobs and still have to find the means to support their family and aged parents, some of whom may be ill which just adds to the financial burden.

What point am I trying to make in my post here? The point to make is that in every society, there are always both ends of the spectrum from the multimillionaires to the very poor and needy. Over the years, I have learnt to be contented with what I have while still aspiring for betterment.

It is definitely not easy to be living off the streets. In this hot and humid climate where days and nights are both hot, without a proper bath and care, one body will deteriorate real fast. Beside the harsh elements, one would have to brace sleeping on non-beds and bracing for attacks from the insects and rats. Sometimes, the homeless in the void decks could be victims of thefts and robbers too!

You may ask how I know so much and whether I am homeless before? I am lucky to have a roof over my head, just that I have always visualize myself being in the shoes of a diverse range of people. The Singapore government has been doing a commendable job rendering social assistance to the needy, however ultimately it cannot help all needy for the whole of their lives. The onus is for everyone to take charge of their lives.

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