Joey grew up in a broken home. Despite being a single father, he is determined to raise his son in a loving and supportive environment.

Joey has been receiving the support of Social Health Growth for close to a year. Without the help of a spouse, parents or relatives, Joey is a 36-year-old single father who raises 4-year-old Tian Le on his own. Joey and Tian Le’s mother separated in 2017. One of their main sources of tension was her negligent parenting that led Joey to be concerned that she constantly prioritised drug use over their son.

Tian Le is Joey’s third child of four; he has two sons and two daughters from different mothers . His first child was born three years after he dropped out of school at the age of 16. “I was taking drugs and did not have good peer influence,” Joey reflected. 

Having come from a family where both parents were drug addicts and did not live together, Joey’s grandmother took care of him until he was 12 as his mother was serving a sentence. “My father had six wives, so I stayed with my stepbrothers and stepsisters. My grandmother played favourites and I wasn’t one of hers due to who my mother was,” Joey elaborated. He briefly stayed with his mother until she chose to ‘sell’ Joey to his father for $3000 in order to use the money to purchase drugs.

Above: Alson (left), Chairman of Social Health Growth, visits Joey (right) at Joey’s home

Ten years ago, Joey lived in Malaysia and worked at a convenience store. There, he met his second wife and had his second child. He expected to settle down in Malaysia, but domestic arguments led him to return to Singapore in hopes of reconciliation. However, upon his return, he fell back into the company of the same group of friends who once introduced him to drugs and Joey was back to his old habits that resulted in him serving a 2-year prison sentence. When his wife found out about it, they cut ties.

Since that experience, Joey has been drug-free. He is now focused on being a responsible father to his son, and being the role model that he never had in his life. “My son gave me good motivation to stay clean. I want to be a good role model to Tian Le, where he knows that I will always be around to take care and support him,” Joey comments. With Father’s Day drawing closer, Joey does not perceive Father’s Day as a one-day affair but a spirit that every father should dutifully carry everyday.

Above: Joey and his son, Tian Le, receive weekly care packages from Social Health Growth.

As Joey leaves his past behind, his advice to youths-at-risk and needy youths is “Contemporary society requires you to have skills, talent and hard work. We should strive to become such a person. Aside from that, a person needs family. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a good family, it doesn’t mean you should befriend friends who would negatively influence you. It’s even more reason to surround yourself with friends who are good influences. A person needs to learn how to say ‘no’ and focus on future prospects and responsibilities.” 

Looking ahead, Joey is looking forward to finding a new job after he was retrenched as a chef at a Western food eatery which closed down following the COVID-19 pandemic. He is grateful for Social Health Growth which supports him in securing a new job, as well as provides monthly NTUC vouchers, milk powder, diapers and a weekly package of food and basic necessities.

Social Health Growth is a charity organisation committed to helping low income families, youth-at-risk, ex-offenders, ex-drug abusers, elderly and single parents raise their children to be healthy and contributing members of society. This Father’s Day, support single fathers like Joey here.