'She gave me a place when I did not have one'
When she was 18, Miss Maya (not her real name) was kicked out of her home by her step-grandfather.
She says: "I knew I was all alone when even my father refused to pick up my phone calls.
"My struggles were different from those of a typical 18-year-old. I had no time to think about meeting friends or buying new bags. I just wanted to survive."
Miss Maya ended up as a sex worker, homeless and almost broke.
But thanks to The T Project, she has found her feet. "I am grateful to Miss June Chua as she gave me a place to stay when I did not have one," she says.
"Staying at the shelter allowed me to save money to get a place of my own. I did not have to worry about rent."
Miss Maya, 22, told The New Paper on Sunday that after she was kicked out of her family home, she found work at a karaoke lounge as a waitress and rented a room in Bishan.
She says: "It was the first day of Hari Raya when I moved in. I spent it all alone. I realised I had no family members with me any more."
But three months later, Miss Maya got home to the sight of all her belongings outside her room. She says: "The landlord wanted the room back. He wanted me to leave immediately and did not even return my deposit money."
With only $70 and no place to stay, she engaged in sex work and stayed at the cheapest hotel she could find in Geylang. "I had to do it to survive, even if it was sex work."
But as the months went by, Miss Maya found it increasingly difficult to pay rent.
She says: "Every day, I woke up worrying if I would end up homeless again."
It was then that her friend told her about the shelter for transgender people.
Miss Maya says: "I went for an interview and on the same night, Miss Chua called me and took me to the shelter.
"There were three other transgender women staying there at that time. I connected with them because we shared similar experiences. They taught me how to be street smart and independent."
She eventually saved up enough to rent a room in Woodlands.
Miss Maya, who works as a social activist for the transgender community in Singapore, credits Miss Chua and The T Project for helping her out of the darkest period of her life.
"Now I have a roof over my head and I can support myself," she says with a proud smile.