Welcoming the New Year with a free haircut
They lined up for a fresh look for a new year.
The senior citizens in a neighbourhood in Hougang got a free haircut on Friday (Feb 5) ahead of Chinese New Year— courtesy of Mr Goh Kow Hoon.
Mr Goh, a 81-year-old retired barber, gave free haircuts from 10am to noon.
He told The New Paper: “I hope that by giving them free haircuts, the elderly residents can get ready to welcome the New Year.”
He has been at Block 112, Hougang Ave 1, every Friday since 2010. The Paya Lebar Wellness Centre is located at the same block.
Usually his customers give him a nominal amount, but on Friday, for the first time, he decided not to accept any money.
Mr Goh’s makeshift “barber shop” consists all of two plastic chairs stacked together in front of a mirror fixed to a wall.
Mr Yaakop Haji Abdul Hamid, a 78-year-old retiree, has been a customer of Mr Goh for the past two years.
He said: “Haircuts at other places at expensive. But here, I give a small amount and he (Mr Goh) is happy with it.”
Mr Yaakop Haji Abdul Hamid getting his hair cut by Mr Goh. TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN
According to Mr Goh, he gets about five to 10 customers on Fridays.
For him, being a volunteer barber not only helps senior citizens in the area but allows him to stay active.
He said in halting Malay: “Before I volunteered at the centre, I was getting bored at home. Here at least I can make friends with those who come for a hair cut."
The person who roped Mr Goh in is Mr Low Ngian Woo, 65, the active ageing committee chairman at the Paya Lebar Wellness Centre.
Said Mr Low: “I saw him around the neighbourhood and I knew that he had retired as a barber.
“I asked him that instead of just hanging around whether he was willing to put his skills to good use. He was more than happy.”
Mr Goh’s haircut service is one of the many services available as part of the the Paya Lebar Wellness Programme.
The Paya Lebar Wellness Programme is under a National Wellness Programme which was first piloted in 2008
When it was launched in 2008, it was rolled out in 12 constituencies.
In May 2010, it was rolled out nationally.
The programme is designed to reach out to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents above the age of 50, and engage them in activities to ensure that they remain mentally and physically active
When The New Paper visited the centre on Friday (Feb 5), the atmosphere was relaxed with senior citizens enjoying Teochew porridge in between games of Rummikub ( a cross between mahjong and Rummy).
So how long will Mr Goh continue his Friday service?
He said: “As long as my hands are steady and my eyes are clear, I will continue to cut hair.”
Then he moved to the next customer.
Mr Goh says he will continue to cut hair as long as he is healthy. TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN