Homeless: The Untold Story of a Mother’s Struggle in Crazy Rich Singapore
Ten years ago, Liyana Dhamirah was in a precarious situation: at 22, she was heavily pregnant and had no place to call home.
For Liyana, home was often unstable. Once a bright teenager full of optimism, she faced uncertainty and found no support from family, government agencies and welfare groups. She had nowhere to go, no one to turn to. When she started living on a beach in Sembawang, she discovered a community of people—families—who were homeless just like her. They stuck together and watched out for each other, even when there were raids. She learned that in prosperous Singapore, the homeless are not always identifiable by appearance alone.
Months later, journalists eventually uncovered Liyana’s story and how she navigated a bureaucracy of obstacles. Today she is a successful entrepreneur and this is her memoir.
About the Author
Liyana Dhamirah is the founder of Virtual Assistants Singapore. With over fourteen years of experience in business and retail industries, she has been a community manager, senior retail associate and media executive; her first entrepreneurial venture was MommaMiia, which made and sold handicrafts and cake pops at flea markets and bazaars. Her volunteer interests include working with the National Library Board of Singapore to help children find joy in reading, as well as distributing pre-loved or new clothing to families in need. This is her first book.
"I read—no, inhaled—the book in 2 days. I find that the writing is raw and accessible, and the stories she tell in the volume reveal insights into life lived in the margins without a roof over one's head. The struggles Liyana faced when it comes to her marriage, providing for her children and seeking aid from social welfare organizations remind me of the struggles that my own mother faced as I was growing up. Liyana's is also a story of resourcefulness—that infamous resourcefulness of mothers, especially Malay mothers, when it comes to 'making a meal out of nothing.'"
— Nuraliah Norasid, winner of the 2016 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"I’ve known Liyana for a decade, and I’m so glad to see her story finally in print. With Singaporeans talking more about income and wealth inequality, it’s so important to have the testimony of someone who has experienced homelessness in this city, and pay attention to what she has to say about how she ended up in that situation, and how hard it was to pull herself out of that rut. Reading Homeless, I got a view of Singapore that I would never have otherwise encountered given my privileged position, and made me realize that there are so many assumptions, so many myths that we tell ourselves, that really need to be consigned to the rubbish heap."
— Kirsten Han, journalist and author of The Silhouette of Oppression, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
“This book is characteristic of the courage and generosity with which I know Liyana approaches everything in life. Her experiences, documented here, give a human face to important questions Singaporeans should be asking about meritocracy, deservedness, dignity and care.”
—Kirsten Han, editor-in-chief of New Naratif and author of The Silhouette of Oppression
“An inspiring story for entrepreneurs of all ages. Liyana’s journey is poignantly written and shines a light on a little-known part of Singapore society. Homeless also gives some powerful lessons about the value of home.”
—Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street and community advocate
Size: 198mm x 129mm
Published: July 2019