Mother so busy she lives in social isolation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 July, 2005, 12:00am

The case of Ms Tse and her family of seven is typical of the dole recipients living in a Tin Shui Wai public flat.

The 36-year-old mainland wife, who refused to disclose her full name, settled in Hong Kong about five years ago and had worked in a Chinese restaurant in Shamshuipo selling dim sum for a year.

But she quit when she found that her monthly salary of $4,000 could not cover the cost of expenses, including travelling costs which ate up about one-quarter of her income.

The mother of three also had to work 10 hours a day and had only one day off every two weeks, leaving her little time to take care of her family.

The family has resorted to government handouts since her husband, now in his 40s, lost his decorating job three years ago.

Since then, the family of five, including their three children now aged between 11 and 14, have relied on a Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payment of $8,000 a month.

However, the family had to tighten spending a year ago after the couple started taking care of their three teenage nephews and nieces, who were abandoned by their parents.

The housewife said she would like to find a job instead of relying on handouts.

'But I cannot support the whole family with a low-paid job. Also, I cannot work long hours because I need to take care of my husband and children,' she said.

Despite having lived in the district for nearly five years, Ms Tse has not made any friends.

'I don't know anything about my neighbours or their backgrounds. I spend all my time taking care of my family. I seldom go out except when buying groceries and taking my children to school.'