Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Trying to explain our financial situation to others...

I am so so so depressed. My brother is facing a problem with his application for financial assistance for his studies, and the university is not convinced about how poor he is.

Since I was unable to work, we have had no income. The doctor’s fees and my student loans have eaten up whatever money I managed to put aside when I was working. When I went home last year, I saw so many receipts of my mum selling off her jewellery. She did not have much to start with, and I know she had no more when I realised that she was not wearing her wedding ring. I felt than an arrow had pierced through my heart when I saw that.

Now I feel terribly miserable again. My brother now needs a loan for his studies. Some idiots doing the administration work definitely had not been poor before. Otherwise you will not be asking for things like grocery bills. Really desperately poor people get a big portion of their food from markets which are so much cheaper than supermarkets; at least that is the case for where I came from. My mum had been saving and penny pinching and I can see her buy things bit by bit from the corner grocers; no more big shopping trips to the hypermarkets. These shops don’t give your receipts. Even if they do, who would have thought of keeping those bits and pieces of receipts for a dollar or two spent? Yet, students in his uni are asked to produce these, among other things in less than two weeks, if they wanted to be considered for financial assistance.

I really feel so helpless about it. There is a strong temptation to make a lot of noise about how this university which proclaimed so loudly that any deserving student would receive financial assistance, and no one would miss a chance studying there because they were poor, actually harass poor students in this manner. I call it harasssment, because they were contacted within three weeks of their examination and had to produce these documentations before being allowed to sit for their exams. While others are busy preparing for exams or writing their term papers, poor students have to worry about those bits and pieces of papers. Isn’t this a form of discrimination? I really cannot understand why the administrators have this tendency to ask students to do these things a short while before their exams. Can’t this be done much earlier, or a month later? I am sure there is a way, if only they are truly sensitive and care about student’s welfare.

My brother's story about how I was the one bread winner and I had fallen sick was not convincing the university officials. Well qualified, young woman being so ill and not able to bring in an income? And it is not cancer? Nah... not possible.

How I hate my fibromyalgia, my rheumatoid arthritis. If I have not had these, I would be working now, I would have submitted my theses. If I had not enrolled in a PhD, my elderly parents would not have used up all their savings. I really do not know how to stop blaming myself. Although I am in a public library now, I can't stop tears from welling up.

Yet…despite all these, I just have to keep on telling myself to think of a way out, not to get stressed as it worsens my condition. And yes, right after this, I must be mentally and emotionally disciplined enough to go back to my thesis straight away. As an FMS and RA patient, I do not have the luxury to waste energy in crying or feeling sad. The cost of that is just too much—a few more days fatigued in bed. Where the body fails, the spirit keeps going.

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