Do Good

Homeless at age 14, this is how a foster family changed her life

by Wong Siqi // September 4, 2021, 1:11 am

Roslina story - feat 1

Main image: Screenshot from the National Day Rally 2021. All other photos in the article are courtesy of Roslina.

In his 2021 National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted Roslina Toh’s effort in mobilising 200 volunteers to organise food and shelter for stranded Malaysian workers when the borders were closed last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Here, the 24-year-old shares about the reason behind her heart for the homeless. 


My parents were divorced for as long as I can remember. My dad went to jail while my mum remarried and had two kids.

So I’ve always grown up with my grandmother. I never really understood what it was like to be in a family that has a father, a mother and kids. To me, that’s like a dream home.

When I was 14, I had a huge fight with my mum because she didn’t allow me to go to church.

There was this day she basically told one of my sisters to lock the door and put my stuff outside of the house.

When I went back home and saw that, at that moment I told myself: “Okay, this is it. I think that she doesn’t want me in the house and I think that I can survive on my own.”

And I decided to just leave.

In this year’s National Day Rally, Roslina’s care for the homeless during the pandemic was one of the stories highlighted.

It felt like it was me against the world. I was living one day after another with no plans for the future. Everything was about me surviving on my own because I was all by myself.

After being homeless for a while, I eventually ended up at Andrew and Grace (AG) Home. That was when I met my current daddy, Pastor Ian of 3:16 Church, who regularly came to give chapel services.

When I was of age and had to move out of the home, I decided to give daddy and mummy a call to ask if I could stay with them. It was a step of faith because I never expected them to say yes.

Interestingly, that same morning, somebody actually prophesied over mummy that she would be a mother to a different kind of kid.

It kind of felt like God was preparing her to take me in and foster me as her own.

It was in her new family where Roslina learnt so much about being a child, a sibling and even a daughter to God.

Being in an almost perfect household – nobody’s household is perfect – I had a lot of insecurities.

There were many moments when I wondered “does daddy or mummy really love me?”.

But daddy and mummy never once made me feel that I wasn’t a part of the family. They have always included me and always ensured that I was a part of the family.

That changed my life – in the way I relate to people.

I learnt how to be a sister to three siblings. I learnt how to be a daughter to daddy and mummy. And I learnt how to be a daughter to God.

I never knew that I didn’t know how to be a daughter to God until I met them and realised that I couldn’t identify with God as a Father.

I saw God’s heart for me in daddy and mummy. I saw how He used them to love me.

It even changed my perspective of God.

Learning to forgive my absent father

When I was homeless, I was an angry child.

I resented God because I didn’t know why I had to go through what I did. And I didn’t understand God’s plans for me.

But now, I’m living the best time of my life. I’m currently studying social work at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

I feel that it is God’s calling in my life to reach out to the down and out because I’m able to empathise with them in a way that many people can’t.

Without having gone through what I did in the past, I wouldn’t be able to reach out to the people that need help. 

Looking back, I believe God has prepared me for this.

Despite her insecurities, Roslina says she was never made to feel like she didn’t belong. Image source: Rogan Yeoh Fotografi

One message I have to anyone who is reading this article is, please foster children.

Many people may not want to foster because they feel that, at the end of the day, they have to return the child to their family. That’s painful for them. I can totally understand.

But think about it another way: When you first foster the child, that’s when the child needs you the most.

In other words, you’re changing a life.

The days they spend with you may be an opportunity for them to come to know God. That may be the only time in the child’s life they could experience the Father’s love in a safe environment.

So I really want to encourage people to read up about fostering. It changed my life and taught me a lot of things.

Its impact on me will last a lifetime.

THINK + TALK

  1. Are you able to relate well to God as your Father? Why/why not?
  2. Do you harbour any resentment/bitterness towards God? Release it to Him and ask Him to give you a fresh perspective on the issue.
  3. Have there been experiences in your life that have led you to develop empathy for a particular cause/people group? What can you do about it?
About the author

Wong Siqi

Siqi often loses her footwear in the office. She is also known for her loud sneezes, huge appetite, and weird sound effects. Happens to be a writer too.