160 Bukit Batok families given food, vouchers for Ramadan

Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai handing out vouchers during the event on April 11, 2021. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - About 10 years ago, Madam Rubiah Hamid was helping to cook meals for needy families as a member of her neighbourhood residents' committee (RC) in Bukit Batok, but on Sunday (April 11), she was the one receiving a helping hand.

As Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai presented her with food and vouchers, the 58-year-old teared.

Speaking in Malay, the former cook at a childcare centre said it reminded her of the days she spent helping out at the RC, an activity which she misses.

Madam Rubiah, a Hokkien Chinese woman raised by a Malay family, had to stop volunteering after she was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago.

She now uses a wheelchair and lives with her husband, a 59-year-old heart attack survivor who does odd jobs.

The couple was among 160 low-income families who received food and vouchers as part of a Ramadan giving event organised by the Bukit Batok Community Club (CC) Malay Activity Executive Committee and the Muhammadiyah Association.

Each family received $75 worth of supermarket vouchers, a 5kg bag of rice and a box of Ajwa dates, which is commonly eaten by Muslims when breaking fast during the fasting month of Ramadan.

The People's Association said the event held at Bukit Batok CC was aimed at bringing festive joy to the vulnerable and underprivileged Malay/Muslim families in the constituency as they prepare to fast during Ramadan.

Many of the residents had suffered loss of income during the Covid-19 pandemic, it added.

Another beneficiary was Madam Siti Zubaidah, her husband and their five children, aged between six and 21.

"My husband is a merchandiser and the sole breadwinner. I only work part-time, helping other low-income families babysit their kids, so the vouchers will really help me a lot," said the 40-year-old.

"Now, things are very expensive. Even with $50, I can buy only a few things."

Madam Zubaidah added that she is unable to work full-time as she has to clean her home and care for her children.

She said two of them have issues that require her to accompany them for regular medical appointments and follow-ups.

Madam Siti Zubaidah (left) receiving gifts from Muhammadiyah Association general secretary Roszanah Abdul Salim and Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

With Covid-19 restrictions and the eight-person cap on social gatherings still in place, Madam Zubaidah said this year's Hari Raya Puasa will be a quiet affair.

"Maybe I will just go over to visit my closest relatives - my mum, my siblings and my dad."

Mr Murali wished residents "selamat berpuasa" (happy fasting) during the event.

"I look forward to attending buka puasa (breaking fast) with you and spending some time with you. This is the Bukit Batok way - helping one another, and particularly for our Muslim friends while you are observing the fast, making sure that you are fully supported," he said.

The fasting month will begin on Tuesday and end on Hari Raya Puasa on May 13.

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