Upon becoming a single mother to four young children in 2016, Ms Nabisah Mohamed, 46, realised that she needed to gain new skills to continue raising her children in an increasingly challenging and evolving world.
At that time, she only had GCE ‘O’ Level qualifications, and with that level of qualification and obsolete skills, she was not able to have gainful employment. In fact, she had faced rejection countless times.
Hence for that reason, she attended a Skillsfuture course on a part-time basis for more than a year.
Following the course that she attended, Ms Nabisah successfully attained a diploma in leadership and service excellence from the Training Vision Institute. Subsequently, she got a stint as a customer service officer at Changi Airport.
Difficulties in juggling duties as a single mum
However, the single mother of four sons ranging from eight to 22 years old, found it challenging to balance and juggle her role as a mother and as the sole breadwinner of the family. This because she had to work on shift for 10 hours, six days a week.
This means that she did not have the time to cook, clean, and spend time with her children and to guide them with their schoolwork or to help them with their problems.
“I never got enough sleep as I had to wake up early the next morning to go to work,” said Ms Nabisah.
She also said that when she was working, her children were forced to be independent.
“It was sad, especially for my eldest son. While he was studying at Republic Polytechnic, he also had to be a father figure to his siblings and help manage them together with my second son. My third and fourth sons were still very young.”
“Both of them had to take care of each other and the younger siblings and manage the household. If I could cook, I cook. Otherwise, they had to buy their own food.”
“I remember that they used to eat instant noodles and canned sardines so often that they started to reject food altogether,” said Ms Nabisah.
Ms Nabisah could only work for six months before she started showing signs of depression.
“I could not sleep at night; I was battling insomnia. I had no appetite to eat and it was also difficult for me to focus because I was constantly thinking about my children at home.”
“I was exhausted; not only physically but emotionally and mentally too,” said Ms Nabisah.
Ms Nabisah quickly realised that she needed help and assistance. She then decided to request for Zakat financial assistance from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) in 2017.
At the same time, Ms Nabisah also visited the Family Services Office (FSC) Punggol to seek for additional assistance. There, she was offered counselling with a social worker who informed her that she was displaying signs of depression.
“The social worker at FSC Punggol advised me to take a rest and stop working. She also requested for me to get help from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH)”.
Zakat assistance a ray of hope
Ms Nabisah first requested for Zakat financial assistance from Muis in 2011, and later in 2017 and she has been receiving Zakat assistance since. She receives Zakat from a different mosque as she had moved houses.
“Alhamdulillah, the Zakat assistance that I receive is used to buy daily necessities for my four sons and help to pay my bills. I made sure that they (the children) have enough so that they can be healthy,” said Ms Nabisah.
Besides Zakat, Ms Nabisah also receives transport assistance for all of her sons to take public transport to school. The assistance was rendered by the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), a social service organisation.
Together, the assistances rendered have helped Ms Nabisah to find a part-time job as a freelance facilitator. She brings home an average of $500 to $600 per month.
“I have a job now but the working hours are short. This gives me the time and energy to take care of my children too,” she said.
“The Zakat financial assistance from Muis has really eased my financial burden,” she added.
“When the community helps to ease the financial burden of families like ours, it helps to improve our mental and emotional health too. And when we are happy and healthy, we can be more focused in striving for excellence and achieve success,” said Ms Nabisah.
Placed importance in education and self-development
Concerned about her children’s education, Ms Nabisah is extremely grateful that her second son, Md Salluddin Rashid Owens, 12, was given the opportunity to attend a tuition programme organised by the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA). Her third and fourth sons, on the other hand, attend the the Mendaki Tuition Scheme (MTS).
Aside from that, they also attend the Mendaki Homework Cafe at Al-Islah Mosque.
Ms Nabisah’s eldest son, Md Danial Isa Mohd Marzuki, 22, is on track to graduate with a diploma in sports sciences from Republic Polytechnic. He will be serving his NS obligation following that.
All four of her sons attend weekly Iqra’ classes at Al-Islah Mosque.
According to Ms Nabisah, all her sons have received the Edusave awards. She also said that her second son, who will be taking the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), hopes to become the best student at Sengkang Primary School.
“When I know of his great ambitions and dreams, I want to help and support him.”
“That is why I feel that Zakat has really helped to ease my financial burdens which in turn, allow me to spend more time and energy to meet my children’s needs,” said Ms Nabisah.
Striving for excellence and giving back
Grateful for the Zakat financial assistance and the help rendered by FSC Punggol and Al-Islah Mosque, Ms Nabisah always reminds her children of the importance of giving back to the community and helping the undeprivileged.
Because of that, her two eldest sons are often involved in volunteering activities with AMP.
Ms Nabisah herself seeks to further improve on herslef by attending the ADIL (Adult Islamic Learning) classes on Tuesdays at Al-Islah Mosque.
“The social worker always reminds me that I am not just a mother, but I am the head of the family too. If I am unstable and depressed, my family will be adversely affected,” she said.
Ms Nabisah hopes that her children will be successful and achieve excellence in school.
Ms Nabisah opines that it is critical for single mothers to not burden their children. Rather, they should try to remain positive so that their children can strive to be the best that they can be.
“I am aware that the Zakat financial assistance is just temporary but I am eternally grateful to the community who has helped our family. The Zakat assistance has contributed so much to our lives and allowed us to live a purposeful life,” she added.
Ms Nabisah falls in two of the categories of 8 asnaf who have rights over Zakat – asnaf fakir and miskin.
Asnaf Fakir and Miskin refers to one who has insufficient means of livelihood to meet his or her basic needs and the Zakat disbursement includes monthly financial assistance, special assistance during Ramadan, and supportive programme grants.
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