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Teen's wish for new shoes to come true

HIS 'WARRIOR SHOES': Jozie uses his only pair of shoes for school and to meet friends. They also double as football boots. He will soon receive a Bata voucher from a donor.


    Feb 23, 2015

    Teen's wish for new shoes to come true

    JOZIE Chang is 17.

    At an age when many teenagers are craving for the latest pair of sports shoes, all Jozie wants is a pair of shoes.

    Any pair, really.

    Because all he has is one pair, which he has worn for over a year. He affectionately terms them "warrior shoes" because of the brand. They are tattered and torn, with holes in odd places.

    The Secondary 3 student at Bukit Merah Secondary uses them for school and to meet friends. They also double as football boots for the avid soccer player. And just like the previous four pairs he has owned, they wear out quickly.

    "My father told me, 'I don't want to get another pair. I bought four pairs for you and you destroyed them all'," he says with a sheepish grin.

    His father, an artist who earns barely $1,000 a month, bought him the $10 pair of school shoes. Jozie and his father have been living at Lakeside's Families-in-Transition Shelter for a year, sharing a room in a two-room flat.

    Money is tight, so when Jozie told a counsellor from Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre @ Tanjong Pagar that he needed a new pair of shoes, she put his request on Pass-It-On, a website that allows donors and recipients to match gifts.

    Jozie was hoping for the new shoes because he has a school trip to Bintan coming up. He then learnt that a donor was offering a Bata voucher.

    "When the donor gives me the voucher, I will buy the shoes straight away and (I'll) take care of them," he says with conviction.

    "People who do not need that voucher may not appreciate it so much.

    "One pair of shoes, to me, is okay. Not two or three pairs," he says.

    "What she (the donor) did is more than enough for me."

    Why not a computer? Or a new phone?

    "Shoes can be used for walking. They help me in my life. If I get a computer, I am scared I'll get addicted to it," he says.

    He reasons that he can use public computers if he needs them for school.

    He has a complicated family background and Jozie's father is bringing him up on his own, with help from their counsellor.

    The father and son are close. Jozie says of his father: "He is my only family."

    His mother is not in the picture.

    "It is not comfortable to live with other tenants," admits Jozie, who finds the living situation awkward, with housemates he is not familiar with.

    "But if my father wants to apply for housing, it is very difficult."

    Jozie also worries for his father, who has a liver condition.

    Says the teen: "My father's medicine costs over $1,000 (and) we have no money to pay. I am very scared for him. Even this Bintan trip, I don't want to go. I want to take care of my father."

    Jozie plans to go to the Institute of Technical Education after secondary school.

    He struggled with mathematics in school and sourced for free tuition on his own. He attends weekly maths tuition classes at Jalan Kukoh Resident Committee.

    In the meantime, Jozie eagerly awaits his new shoes.

    "I am looking forward to the new shoes. When I get them, I will keep checking if my shoes are dirty. If they are, I'll go to the toilet and wipe them," he says with a grin.