At 17 she found herself with a broken home and nowhere to stay


(4 October 2015, Sunday) Six years ago in September, Rohaishah Hamid’s life spiralled into a vortex of bleakness and unpredictability. Her folks divorced, leaving her and her mother without a roof over their heads. They could not afford to rent and no one they knew could offer both of them a place to stay. So mother and daughter had to separate. A family friend took her mother in while Ms Rohaishah, then just 17, bunked in with various classmates and buddies. It was not always possible so on more than one occasion, she had to stay up at void decks or the beach.

Then studying at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) on a teaching scholarship, her $800 monthly allowance was not enough for her sickly mother’s medical bills and other expenses, let alone materials for her art assignments. She skipped many classes and failed several modules. Nafa threatened to expel her; the Ministry of Education (MOE) wanted to withdraw its scholarship.

Because of her grades and attendance record, she could not graduate after three years. She had to persuade both Nafa and MOE – which withdrew its monthly allowance – to let her retake her modules.

“And Nafa was going to expel me. So I pleaded and begged and spoke to MOE and all my lecturers. After a lot of consideration, they decided to give me one more year.” Life got a lot better after she graduated from Nafa in 2013.

She got a decent stipend while pursuing her diploma in education, and also finally managed to secure a rental flat in the Sin Ming area from the Housing Board where she now lives with her mother.

Media: The Sunday Times, Insight, Page B7

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