This is what helping families looks like

In the ongoing debate on inequality and poverty , this writer argues that Singapore's 'ecosystem' of helping the poor, which emphasises self-reliance, is working well

ST ILLUSTRATION : MIEL

When I was an undergraduate in social work three decades ago, I learnt that welfare to the poor is a temporary safety net: it is to help individuals "get back on their feet".

This lesson resonated with me. Growing up, my family diet was often rice and soya sauce. Clothes and books were handed down from older to younger siblings. My bed was a straw mat in the corridor, because our one-room rental flat was too small for all of us.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'This is what helping families looks like'. Subscribe