Ailing woman’s cluttered flat spruced up in time for Hari Raya, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Ailing woman’s cluttered flat spruced up in time for Hari Raya

For a long time, Madam Maniseh Mustapha, who has ailing health and poor vision, had to move carefully in her two-room rental flat in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 as it was dark and cluttered.

The 47-year-old, who has various ailments such as arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, relies on a personal mobility device. She struggled with daily tasks such as housekeeping, and over time, things in the flat piled up.

Her 14-year-old son, Muhammad Rasul, has a heart condition and mild intellectual disability, and is studying at the Association for Persons with Special Needs. He would sit at his computer desk all day – even eating his meals there – as the family lacked furniture.

But now, the flat they have lived in for 12 years is uncluttered and refurbished, just in time for Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

The home was renovated under Project Happiness, a community outreach initiative started in 2019 by Jamiyah Halfway House, a rehabilitation centre for former drug offenders.

The initiative helps families in need prepare for festivities such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas. Madam Maniseh was selected out of four Muslim candidates.

“My house really had a lot of things,” recalled Madam Maniseh, a former cleaner who has been unemployed for three years. “It was so stuffy and really dark.”

During the eight-day renovation earlier in April, six volunteers and alumni from Jamiyah Halfway House cleared the clutter, cleaned the flat, painted the walls and did electrical installation works.

Special attention was paid to the walls, which Madam Maniseh requested to be painted pink, her son’s favourite colour. 

Her flat was refurbished with furniture and electrical appliances such as a sofa, coffee table, dining table and ceiling fans, all of which she did not have before.

The total cost of the renovation was $3,000, sponsored by businesses that also provide full-time employment for the halfway house’s residents.

The official handover of the flat to the family on Wednesday was attended by Dr Sushilan Vasoo, second adviser to Ang Mo Kio GRC Grassroots Organisations.

“Such projects bring support to the community and to families, and make families want to improve further in their life,” he said. “It’s very important for low-income families to have hope, and aspirations to do better.”

Madam Maniseh and her son were also treated to a sumptuous dinner at a hotel for the breaking of fast on Monday. They also received a gift of Hari Raya treats on Wednesday. A festive meal will also be delivered to them on the eve of Hari Raya.

Madam Maniseh said the renovation has given her and her son a new lease of life.

Before the renovation, Madam Maniseh’s home was cramped with clutter, making it difficult for her carry out daily household activities and host friends and relatives. PHOTO: JAMIYAH SINGAPORE


“Now, he seldom sits down in one place,” she said. “He can move around and sit here, or sit at this side.”

The spruced-up space also means she can host friends and family during festive occasions.

“(The halfway house) helped me (go from having) the worst to a very beautiful house,” said Madam Maniseh, who wept quietly when watching a video montage of the renovation shown during the handover.

“It really looks like a house now.”