When Chiew Wenqi was just five years old, her bankrupt father left her mum and her to fend for themselves. Her mother, who previously had a maid to serve her, had to become a cleaner and beer promoter to support Wenqi and pay for the flat.
This is Wenqi's tribute to her mum:
"A top mother is a person who seeing there are only two pieces of pie for three people, promptly announces that she never did care for pie. My mother is more than that, she is a noble, selfless, loving, magnanimous, determined and strong-willed woman.
"11 years ago, when I was 5, my father got hooked on gambling and his company eventually went bust due to negligence. He was declared bankrupt and heavily in debt. Unable to afford for 2 families, my father left us to fend for ourselves and went off with his other wife.
"My mum was devastated and helpless. She had literally no savings and only had little education, only up till secondary 2. Adding to that is the fact that she had been enjoying life as a wealthy housewife for the past decade, she had no working experience. She had difficulties looking for jobs. All the jobs that we offered to her were low-paying and laborious. Thus, she had to juggle two jobs to earn enough to support me and pay for the flat.
"From a tai tai who had a maid to serve her, to working for others in not-so-glorious jobs like beer promoter and school cleaner, my mother pulled it through every obstacle thrown at her for my sake.
"I know she could not bear to put me into childcare centres but she had to do it so that life could go on. I know it was a really difficult time for her and I caught her secretly crying in the dark at the living room in the middle of the night but she pushed on to give us a better life and a future. I know she could have just taken the easy way out and dumped me into an orphanage or given me away since I was so young at that time and she could thus lead a much better life but she didn’t. I know she could have re-married but she did not want me to possibly suffer under the hands of a step-dad.
"Before she did anything, she thought of me first. Never mind how much she suffered, she never told me and she could even smile in front of me, despite all that she was going through. She wanted me to have a good childhood and a better future, therefore, despite her meagre income, she never compromised on my education. She made sure that i got all my textbooks and uniforms before the school year started. Even if it means that she had no money for her own meals, she would always ensure that i have enough money in my wallet before we left school for my recess and lunch.
"I remember when I was primary 4, I became quite rebellious. I refused to study for my exams and even resorted to cheating. Once, I was caught trying to cheat by hiding a piece of note under my exam paper. For fear of getting into trouble, I lied that the note got there by accident and I did not do it on purpose. My teacher called to meet my parents and my mum rushed over immediately even though she was supposed to be working.
"I kept insisting that I brought the note into the exam by accident and even though my teacher did not believe me, my mother did. She trusted me and stood by me and told the teacher that she believed I would not resort to cheating. Eventually, the teacher had no choice but to let the matter rest.
"On the way home, I felt really guilty and horrid inside me. I knew that I had to tell my mum the truth, or else I would live to regret this. Even though I eventually told her the truth, she did not scold or cane me, in fact she never caned me in my whole life, she hugged me and wiped my tears away. She told me that everyone made mistakes and it’s okay as long as we own up and try our best not to commit the same mistake again. I was so touched by her actions and words that I vow to study hard from now on and never resort to cheating for exams anymore. I studied hard and for my Primary School Leaving Examination, I was the top 10% of my school cohort with a score of 264.
Go to the next page to find out what Wenqi did two years ago that broke her mum's heart