From Shelter to Self-Improvement: The Inspiring Journey of a Resilient Mother

  • Regina Chia, Lau Rong Xian
  • May 05 2023 - 3 MIN READ

Every Mother’s Day, we recognise women’s incredible strength and resilience. This year, we highlight the story of a single mother who is working hard to carve a better life for her two children.

Meet Cherry, a participant on YWCA’s Empowering Mums and English Club programme. At 27, she took a leap of faith to leave Vietnam to marry a Singaporean and start a new life here. But little did she know that her journey would take some unexpected turns.


A Living Nightmare

Three years into the marriage, Cherry courageously separated from her husband to protect herself from spousal abuse. It was a harrowing experience that she remembers to this day.

With no one to turn to in an unfamiliar land, Cherry and her two children sought refuge in a shelter for victims of spousal abuse for over a year.  She eked a living out of waiting tables at a fast-food restaurant but had barely enough for her own necessities.

However, Cherry never gave up on her dreams of having a place to call home. With hard work and perseverance, she went on to secure an HDB rental flat, with the hopes of creating a loving home for her children and rebuilding their lives. Her children needed this. Her daughter was entering adolescence and her young son had special needs that required a lot of her attention. She was their only pillar of support.

Under the weight of her responsibilities as a single mother, Cherry found work as a part-time sales representative to support her family. With a low basic salary, Cherry had to rely on commissions for more income. Without a good command of English, she had difficulty conversing with her customers and increasing sales income.

Exacerbating her financial worries was her daughter’s non-subsidized school fees due to her ‘Dependent Pass’ status. The high fees drained most of her salary and Cherry was not able to sustain her family.

Cherry knew that if she wanted a better income, she had to upskill and improve her command of English. She sought help from her social worker who then introduced her to YWCA’s Women Empowerment programmes and signed up for our Empowering Mums as well as English Club programmes.

A New Harvest with English Club

At the YWCA English Club, Cherry received 1-to-1 coaching from volunteer tutors who were trained to teach according to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) standards. YWCA’s curriculum was designed to be relevant to participants, to help them gain control of their lives through English-speaking abilities.

YWCA English Club participant (Cherry) is guided by a volunteer.

A volunteer guides Cherry during an English Club session

So far, the 10-week-long English course has been practical and useful for Cherry. “I am grateful for the programme as it has helped improve my speech and writing skills,” she says.

Cherry appreciates the patience and kindness of volunteers who take time off work to help her. She enjoys the lessons and uses what she has learned for work and to socialise.

Furthermore, the English Club empowers women to carve a better living for themselves. In Cherry’s case, learning to communicate better has helped her have an easier time promoting products that suit her clients. Thus, giving her an opportunity to earn more commissions to supplement her income.

When asked what she liked about the English course, Cherry shared that she now has a support group with the other Mums in the programme. Meeting mums from similar backgrounds made her realise she was not alone in her struggles and encouraged her on her journey as a single mum.

With renewed hope, Cherry now dreams of starting her own business in the beauty industry. YWCA is so excited to be supporting our power-mum Cherry in her vision to bring a better life for herself and her children. Cherry, thank you for being an inspiring SuperMum!

About the YWCA English Club

The YWCA English Club is a free English course aimed at empowering low-income mums with foundational English skills to boost their self-esteem and employability. The programme promotes a supportive and inclusive environment where participants learn from volunteer tutors in a safe space.

The programme covers five proficiency levels of learning according to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) standards. Various learning tools and activities ensure an engaging experience to cater to different learning styles and interests.

2-hour classes are held with trained volunteers. To further support mums on this programme, childminding services are provided on a needs basis with reading and play elements to engage children.

Join Us in Supporting Our Causes

The YWCA of Singapore plans to expand our English Club programme to reach more mums and women in need.

If you know someone who might benefit from this programme, please contact sandralim@ywca.org.sg to register interest.

Alternatively, click here to donate, or here to volunteer with us.

Get in Touch With Us Today

If have any questions or enquiries, feel free to contact us by clicking the button bellow.

Contact Us