YEE-lee, Yee-sha, Yee-kam and Ching-sum would love to have fancy clothes, popular music cassettes, TV games, birthday parties and other treats that their schoolmates enjoy. But growing up in a single-parent family on public assistance means the Chan children can barely afford the essentials of life, let alone the luxuries. Since their mother, Ku Sau-ling, divorced her husband in 1989 she has found it difficult to bring up four children by herself. ''I cannot go to work because I have to take care of the children,'' she said. Yee-sha, 11, knew her family was in financial difficulties, but she could not understand why. ''I feel happy living here with mum and brother and sisters,'' she said. But she sometimes wishes for the privileges other children enjoy. ''I have never been to the cinema like my schoolmates and I do not even know what films are on now,'' she said. Yee-sha and her sister, 12-year-old Yee-lee, cannot buy cassettes of songs they like. They do not get any pocket money. The girls' clothes are all bought in markets or second hand. Ms Ku said that Yee-lee particularly hated second-hand clothes and sometimes preferred to go out in her school uniform. However, Yee-lee said she did not feel depressed, nor did she blame anyone: ''I am very hardworking in school now because I want to earn lots of money when I grow up to compensate for what I lack now.'' She enjoys school and came third in her class last term. Yee-kam, five, and Ching-sum, four, were too young to understand the family's plight. Under the new Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme, which began on July 1, the amount the family receives has increased from $3,060 to more than $4,800 a month. The extra money means Ms Ku will be able to feed herself and her children better. On her previous allowance, she was able to afford only about $2,000 for food - well below what Paediatrics Society president Dr Chow Chung-bong said was needed to provide minimum nutritional requirements.