Thursday, December 24, 2015

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: 'Silent Night' for lonely seniors

My letter to The Straits Times on the above subject is published today, Thursday 24th December 2015.
Being a widowed senior citizen who has lost key social support, I share the sentiments expressed by Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng (“Vital to help seniors feel connected with society; Dec 19).

Seniors who have experienced unconditional love from their late spouses and lack community support are bound to fall into depression as they feel a huge vacuum in their lives.

Within the four walls of our homes, many of us are suffering in silence, as there are too many painful memories of the loved that we once were fortunate to experience.

This sense of being uncared for intensifies for Christians when Christmas comes around as lonely seniors see families and friends in joyous celebration.

This is when our vulnerable citizens have to literally experience a “Silent Night”.

During a home visit last month, my Member of Parliament, Dr Koh Poh Koon, felt my loss, gave me some FairPrice vouchers for Christmas and directed his grassroots leader to place me on the list of vulnerable citizens.

I was deeply touched by Dr Koh’s generosity and this must surely be the behaviour all MPs can emulate.

Churches, too, has an important role to play in supporting their Christian seniors. Their volunteers can visit our lonely elderly and spread the joys of Christmas through carolling and simple gifts.

With the loss of income, the Government can help by offering a fixed sum to our lonely elderly through the proposed Silver Support Scheme, while the Ministry of Health could lower the qualifying age for subsidies for seniors, as medical costs are a concern for many retired Singaporeans. Raymond Anthony Fernando
It isn't enough that I have loved/cared for my wife to her last dying breath, practised the marriage vows for 40 years to the letter, based on my Catholic teachings, but when my wife dies, everything  has  died with her.  Almost all churches are now turning me away and my only means of earning a decent living & to keep my sanity  has come to a grinding halt.
 The Shepherd must know how to lead his/her flock and bring light to those who are trapped in darkness. And our clergy should know that.
Besides, MP Dr Koh, there are a few others who understand my struggles in my quest to rebuild my life,  both as a writer and as a widower ,and they include Senior Minister of State in PMO, Mr Heng Chee How who purchased 25 copies of my book , A/Prof Chua Hong Choon who bought 20 copies of my novel and Dr Pauline Tan , the CEO of the Yishun Community Hospital who purchased 20 copies of my books.  These are exceptional human beings. For when a door closes, God will open windows.
In closing, I also want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to a few friends who have taken the trouble to take me out for a meal.
Have a Blessed Christmas!
Raymond Anthony Fernando

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