A cup of hope with coffee carts
Her parents died when she was 11 - her father from a stroke and her mother from lung cancer.
She was so distraught she had fever for a week after her mother died. She later moved in with her maternal grandmother.
After dropping out of Secondary 3, she took up a variety of jobs, including working at a factory and waitressing at a restaurant.
Then she decided to go back to school, and was accepted by Assumption Vocational Institute. But she did not make it past her first year there as she got pregnant.
She dropped out of school once again, this time to give birth. She then resumed working different part-time jobs.
Despite a difficult past, Madam Siti Nurfarressah, 26, now has the chance to operate a coffee business.
Bettr Barista Coffee Carts, a collaboration between Income OrangeAid and Bettr Barista Coffee Academy, is being launched today.
The initiative consists of three coffee carts staffed by about 20 at-risk youths and marginalised women either trained or employed by Bettr Barista Coffee Academy.
During her internship from March to November last year, Madam Nurfarressah mostly made coffee.
Today, she takes orders and manages customers, stocks and cash too.
Ms Pamela Chng, founder of Bettr Barista Coffee Academy, a for-profit social enterprise with a full range of specialty coffee courses and services, told TNP that the coffee carts are a growth opportunity for its graduates.
The 40-year-old said: "If they want to take ownership and do more one day, they can."
A social movement, Give A Cuppa, is being launched in conjunction with the coffee carts. (See report right.)
Madam Nurfarressah, now married with a second child, said her life changed when a social worker wrote to the coffee academy for her last year.
As she was a teenage mother and school dropout, she fit its holistic training programme's criteria of being an at-risk teenager and marginalised woman.
As part of the six-month training, Madam Nurfarressah went through emotional skills training sessions with a psychologist.
These sessions helped her manage her emotions and difficult situations.
Madam Nurfarressah said that in the past, she would argue with difficult customers. Now, she sticks to the motto that the customer is always right.
She is also aiming to become a manager at a Bettr Barista coffee cart, and believes she has a good chance to prove herself.
"It makes me a more responsible person and it's different from what I've done before. It's a new challenge for me and I'm very excited," she said.
About the Bettr Barista coffee carts
The third and last Bettr Barista coffee cart was opened to the public at the NTUC Income Centre today.
The other two, located at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) building in Thomson Road, have been operational for about two months.
They are open from 8am to 5pm from Monday to Friday. The cart at the MSF building is closed on Thursday.
The drinks are priced between $2.50 and $6.50.
To promote the launch, NTUC Income OrangeAid and Bettr Barista started the Give A Cuppa social movement.
Until Dec 31, with every cup purchased online for yourself, friends or loved ones, a dollar goes to the Income OrangeAid Future Development Programme.
Go to www.income.com.sg/orangeaid/activities/giveacuppa for more details.