Having made bad life choices, she got pregnant in her teens, and later found herself staying in a tent at Sembawang Park with her husband.
That happened when Liyana Dhamirah, now 32, was pregnant with their third child.
To allow others to learn from her experience, she has written a book about it, titled Homeless: The Untold Story Of A Mother’s Struggle In Crazy Rich Singapore.
It is published by Epigram Books.
Ms Liyana told The New Paper she was 16 when she met a 23-year-old man through mutual friends.
She said: “I was mixing with the wrong crowd, who were drinking and partying.”
Becoming a teen mum
After three months as a couple in 2003, she got pregnant.
Abortion was not an option because of her faith.They got married in September that year.
She dropped out of school and took her O-level examinations in a private examination centre.
Her first child, a son, was born on Dec 4, 2003, and she began working as a waitress shortly after that to support her family.
She said: “Being a wife was something I was not prepared for.”
They had a second son in 2005, despite facing marital issues.
Homeless in Singapore
Then, in 2009, the couple had to move out of her mother-in-law’s flat.
She gathered their things, and for three months, stayed with several other families at the beach. Their two sons stayed with her mother in Johor Baru.
She said of the experience: “It was not all bad, there was a nice kampung feel.”
During the day, Ms Liyana would contact social workers and attend meet-the-people sessions. They were then offered a shelter under New Hope Community Services.
She moved into a shared three-room flat on New Year’s Day 2010. She got divorced about four years later.
Starting her own business
Liyana is now the founder of her own administrative services start-up Virtual Assistants Singapore.
She is married to Mr Muhammad Faizal Sugi, 36, and they live in a four-room flat in Woodlands with her three children.
Edmund Wee, Epigram Books’ founder, told TNP: “Liyana’s story is a compelling one you don’t hear often in Singapore. It deserves to be told.”
Ms Liyana’s book is available at the Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop and other major bookstores at $20.22 including GST.