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Visited a needy family at Marine Terrace yesterday – I was fascinated by the beautiful sea view on top of the block though it houses three rental blocks for Singapore’s poorest. About 20 metres away are another two more rental units.

The five rental blocks for the poor are surrounded by our high-rise HDB flats with a 3-room unit selling easily at $380,000 minimum. But these poor families pay rent of between $50 to $300 each depending on the combined income of the family members.

There is a narrow common corridor leading to the unit and there is little hint of any poverty outside as its sparkling clean and like I mentioned earlier there is also the beautiful sea view.

A PayU meter – sign of a family in poverty – caught my attention as it hung on the left side of the main door leading into the cosy living room. A PayU meter is used by the needy so that they will control their electrical usage – it can only be topped up at the SingPost using a pre-set key.

The meter reads $5.90 so the family probably can use it to power their electrical household consumption till Saturday at the most as the daily usage is about $2 for the powering of lights, fan, fridge and other simple electrical appliances. I gave them about $50 to top up the Pay U before leaving.

They confided in me that there are periods whereby they live without any electricity as they simply have no cash to do the top-up – the longest they have to live with candlelight at night is close to a month!

Tears welled up when they say that as I remembered my own experience with darkness when my parents could not pay the SP bills on time when I was still in primary school. We light candles too to pass through the bleak nights and its no fun.

Furniture for the family of 8 is mostly hand-me-down and a nice cosy creamy sofa took up a main corner of the living room. A large plasma TV – another hand-me-down from the nearby FSC is the family’s regular entertainment time-buster. Canned food and parcels of rice filled up a large corner in the kitchen – donations from the FSC and some charity groups.

More at http://www.transitioning.org/2017/08/04/family-of-8-living-on-500month-with-no-water-5-pay-u-and-limited-transport-fare/