Rising above difficult situations

Wee Kar Kho Stories

While most 24-year-olds are still figuring out their future, Derrick Ong already knows what he wants. The Year 3 business management undergraduate at Singapore Management University says: “I want a job in wealth management and a stable income.”

Coming from a single-parent family, Derrick and his elder brother, Brandon (a second-year student studying aircraft engineering), are prudent. They keep track of their expenses and spend most school holidays working part-time to earn pocket money.

Their mother, Madam Chua, 54, is a factory operator who works 12 hours every day and, as a result, experiences shoulder and joint pains. She has been the sole breadwinner for the family, and to support her children, she often works overtime and brings home less than $2,000 a month.

Madam Chua learnt from a friend (who is a CDAC volunteer) that CDAC’s programmes could help tide them over this difficult period. Through Project RAISE (Realising Aspirations through Skills & Education) and other schemes, the family received grants for education, as well as grocery vouchers to cope with daily needs.

Derrick is hoping to start work quickly to make life easier for his mother.

“I want to support the family so my mother can retire,” he explains.

The challenging situation has made Derrick very determined.

He sought internships with an accounting firm and a bank to gain experience. With CDAC’s assistance, he will attend summer school in South Korea to gain international exposure. With this busy schedule, he is often exhausted.

In tears, Madam Chua says: “I don’t mind working long hours, but it pains me to see him working so hard. He is very responsible and sensible.”

Derrick knows that this is temporary and things will get better: “There is satisfaction from achieving success from scratch. With a proper job and uncertainties settled, I will be able to spend more time with my family.”