Helping Mr Lim

By Shermaine@MSF

Shermaine works at one of MSF’s network of 24 Social Service Offices islandwide. Here, the social-work trained 27-year-old shares her reflections about reaching out to those in need.


When I first met Mr Lim (not his real name), both his legs were amputated. He was also undergoing dialysis.

It was not an easy time for him. Though he grieved about his poor state of health, he was keen to work.

Encouraged by his spirit, I helped him look for employment opportunities. Mr Lim accepted the contacts, but stopped short of agreeing to a follow-up session with me.

I thought that he was probably feeling a bit resistant, and needed time to think through his options. So I gave him some time to consider.

It was a few years before I met Mr Lim again. When we bumped into each other again, I was surprised that he recognised me!

He was now making a living by selling ice-cream, but he had been asked by the Town Council to move his ice cream cart to another location.

Glad to be able to lend a hand, we managed to appeal to the Town Council on Mr Lim’s behalf. By citing his physical constraints (as well as how his customers were familiar with him in the area!), the Town Council was agreeable to our appeal and allowed Mr Lim’s cart to remain at the same spot.

I met Mr Lim again when he approached us at the Social Service Office (SSO) to apply for financial assistance. His health had deteriorated, and he could no longer work as a hawker.

We processed his application, but the journey of helping him gave me much to think about.

It is really painful to see our clients suffer. But for many like Mr Lim, I am astounded by their resilience and spirit to survive.

We are all drawn to social work for many reasons. But I think the most important reason is that it is a calling.

To have the honour of helping people in need, like Mr Lim, is why we do what we do.

This a complex profession, which carries great responsibilities. But it is also dynamic.

To future friends and colleagues: As we fulfil this calling, I hope all of us will remember to take care of ourselves too. We need to have cool-down moments, to prevent burn-out and fatigue.

It’s MSF Social Workers’ Day today, and I am proud to be part of this community. 🙂