Generation Grit: Staying strong for siblings in the face of poverty, grief

Mr Faaqih Hilmy Gozan had to go to school hungry as his parents could not afford to give him pocket money. After his older brother died, he worked many jobs to help out with the family finances. His hard work paid off when he got a scholarship.
After his father was retrenched during the 2009 Asian financial crisis, Mr Faaqih Hilmy Gozan and his older brother took on side jobs to support their parents and four younger siblings. But tragedy struck in 2015 when his brother died in an accident
After his father was retrenched during the 2009 Asian financial crisis, Mr Faaqih Hilmy Gozan and his older brother took on side jobs to support their parents and four younger siblings. But tragedy struck in 2015 when his brother died in an accident overseas. Mr Hilmy kept going with school and part-time jobs to help pay the bills, and is now working as an engineer after graduating last year.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

When his father was retrenched, Mr Faaqih Hilmy Gozan joined his older brother in finding work to supplement the family's income - but there was worse to come

For nearly two years while studying at Innova Junior College, Mr Faaqih Hilmy Gozan's daily lunch was a packet of white rice with soya sauce or chilli, and the occasional egg.

The student was so embarrassed by his meagre meals that he would hide from his friends to eat, he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2019, with the headline 'Staying strong for siblings in the face of poverty, grief'. Print Edition | Subscribe