Mosques to help channel aid for needy

Dr Yaacob (right) speaking to beneficiaries who can now apply for aid at heartland sites, including the Al-Muttaqin mosque. With him is Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Intan Azura Mokhtar (middle). -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN
Dr Yaacob (right) speaking to beneficiaries who can now apply for aid at heartland sites, including the Al-Muttaqin mosque. With him is Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Intan Azura Mokhtar (middle). -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Each time Madam Noor Relah Hussain applied for education bursaries or programmes for her children, she would spend almost two hours taking a bus from her Toa Payoh flat to Mendaki's Siglap headquarters.

The administrative and laboratory assistant had to make the trip a few times each year.

But her journey times will be slashed to 15 minutes, after a tie-up between the Malay/Muslim self-help group Mendaki and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis). The application for aid will be decentralised to several heartland locations, including the Al-Muttaqin mosque near her home, under a programme called Nadi Khidmat.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who visited the Ang Mo Kio mosque yesterday, said: "We know there are a lot of Malay/Muslim families out there who need help, who don't know how to navigate the complex social system that we have.

"But if there's a touch point where they come down to, especially at the mosque... we will be able to then assist them."

It will be rolled out later this year at two other heartland mosques - in Bukit Merah and Bedok - after being unveiled in Parliament earlier this month. It is also available at Mendaki's satellite centres in Pasir Ris and Woodlands, and another mosque in Jurong.

Dr Yaacob added that there would be a trial period of a year before the authorities decide if they should extend it to other mosques.

Madam Noor Relah, whose five children are aged between 14 and 23, is looking forward to the time savings. She said yesterday: "Now it's so much more convenient and we can drop by anytime."

maryamm@sph.com.sg