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Her husband was dead, killed after an argument with another man at a coffee shop.
Faced with the mountain of debt Mr Phan Duc Thang had incurred back in Vietnam for coming here to work as a dishwasher, his widow Bui Thi Thu Ha was at a loss about what to do.
Fortunately, the 32-year-old woman's plight, which was reported on the front page of The New Paper on Monday, had touched many kind-hearted people.
They have donated about $24,000 to help the mother of two, who earns just over $100 a month working in a glove factory in Vietnam.
She flew back home on Tuesday with her husband's body to rebuild her life with her family all over again.
Mr Phan, 32, the main breadwinner of his family, came to Singapore from Vietnam, hoping to give his family a better life.
He found work as a dishwasher at a coffee shop in Marsiling and would remit $700 of his $1,000 monthly salary to Madam Bui for the upkeep of his family, which included two young sons, seven siblings and an elderly mother.
But on May 21, Mr Phan died of head injuries following an altercation with another man at a coffee shop.
The man in the incident was charged in court on May 23 with voluntarily causing grievous hurt.
Ms Nguyen Hong Thao, 33, and Madam Tran Thi Le Quyen, 26, came to know of the incident after it was shared on a Facebook group for Vietnamese living in Singapore.
"We thought their plight was very pitiful and knew they needed help," said Madam Tran in Mandarin.
They then contacted Mr Roland Tay, founder of Direct Funeral Services, and appealed for his help.
The two women had worked with Mr Tay previously, when they approached him to help the families of other Vietnamese who died here.
Mr Tay told TNP: "I was very sad when I heard the story and I had to help."
He paid for the Phans' plane tickets and accommodation here, and helped to arrange all the funeral rites for free. Madam Bui was accompanied by Mr Phan's two brothers.
After the news broke on Monday, people from all over Singapore came forward to help the Phans.
Mr Tay said: "After TNP's story broke, people have been calling me to ask for the number of Madam Bui and how they could help her."
He recounted how one woman went to his office to donate $5,000 to Madam Bui. Mr Tay said the woman spent about half an hour talking to Madam Bui at his office on Lavender Street, asking about the Phans' two boys.
The woman gave the Vietnamese widow a hug before she left.
"It was very touching," said Mr Tay.
He told Madam Bui that many others had asked how they could help.
Ms Nguyen suggested to Madam Bui that she provide a bank account number for these people to send money to. Alternatively, they could contact her or Mr Tay.
According to Ms Nguyen, most of the money donated to the family would be used to pay off debts back in Vietnam.
Just to come to Singapore, Mr Phan had to borrow about $8,000 to pay the agent, travel and administrative fees.
Ms Nguyen also revealed that the Phans had to mortgage their house in Vietnam for Mr Phan to come here.
Madam Bui told TNP in Mandarin: "I hope to clear all my debts with the bank and use the remaining money to raise my sons well."
Madam Bui and Mr Phan's two brothers returned to Vietnam on Tuesday afternoon.
Ms Nguyen and Madam Tran, who were companions and guides to Madam Bui throughout her time in Singapore, were at the airport to see them off.
Ms Nguyen said Madam Bui appeared to be in better spirits.
"I told her not to cry anymore and to be strong as she still needs to look after her kids and her family," added Ms Nguyen. "She never thought so many people would come forward to help."
Madam Bui said: "I am very grateful to everyone in Singapore who has helped me. I don't think I could have got over this difficult time without everyone's help."
This article was first published on June 2, 2016.
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