Baby found in rubbish bin

Cleaners thought crying came from toy doll

Bangladeshi cleaners Patwari Shamim (right) and Mostafa Kamal at the rubbish chute at Block 534 Bedok North Street 3, where the baby was found inside a plastic bag in the bin. The two men heard crying while they were on a buggy collecting rubbish, an
Bangladeshi cleaners Patwari Shamim (right) and Mostafa Kamal at the rubbish chute at Block 534 Bedok North Street 3, where the baby was found inside a plastic bag in the bin. The two men heard crying while they were on a buggy collecting rubbish, and stopped to check where it was coming from.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Bangladeshi cleaners recall how they found abandoned baby in plastic bag, saved his life

It began with a soft crying sound and ended with two cleaners saving the life of an abandoned newborn boy.

As Mr Patwari Shamim and Mr Mostafa Kamal drove a buggy to collect rubbish bins from about 17 refuse chute chambers around Block 534 in Bedok North Street 3 on Tuesday morning, they heard crying coming from one of the bins.

Mr Patwari, 24, thought he had misheard and asked his colleague. Mr Mostafa, 37, had also heard it and said it was probably a discarded toy doll with its batteries still intact.

In a decision that dramatically changed the baby's fate, Mr Patwari, who was driving, stopped the buggy for Mr Mostafa to check the bin.

In a mix of English and Bengali, the two Bangladeshi cleaners related how Mr Mostafa opened the bin and removed a sheet of newspaper to find a Sheng Siong supermarket plastic bag that looked wet and bloody. He stepped back in shock: something in the bag had moved.

Mr Patwari said he could make out tiny limbs thrashing inside the bag. He said: "We have found dolls before that made crying sounds. But the crying coming from inside the bag was now very loud and it made me scared."

He called their supervisor at Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. When he arrived, they opened the bag.

Mr Patwari saw a naked male infant lying in a small pool of water with blood on his body. Part of the baby's umbilical cord was still attached, he said. The supervisor called the police immediately and Mr Patwari went back to the bin centre to get a piece of cloth to clean and wrap the baby.

Cleaners recall shocking discovery

The police said on Tuesday that they were still trying to trace the baby's parents.

When paramedics checked the baby, he was in stable condition and had no visible injuries. He was later taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

Mr Patwari said that in the four years he has worked in Singapore, this is the first time something like this has happened.

  • WHERE TO GET HELP

  • Expectant mothers can seek help from these channels

    24-HOUR MUM-TO-BE HELPLINE 

    1800-686-8623

    PREGNANCY CRISIS SERVICE 

    6339-9770

    Teenagers facing a pregnancy crisis can seek help from the BABES 24-hour call or SMS helpline 

    8111-3535

    SAFE PLACE

    6817-4202

 
 

He and his colleague clear rubbish from the refuse chute chambers of 28 Housing Board blocks in the estate once a day, taking six bins on the buggy to the centralised bin centre on each trip.

The doors to the refuse chute chambers are not locked.

Mr Patwari, the second youngest of five siblings, said he is still reeling from shock over the incident and was worried about the infant after the boy was taken to hospital. He said: "A policeman came here (on Wednesday) and I asked him how the baby was doing. I am happy to hear that he is healthy."

Mr Patwari, who is single, said he had a hard time trying to sleep on Tuesday. "I kept thinking what would have happened if I had not seen the baby. I could have just dumped him into the bin centre to be crushed.

"I am so happy the baby is alive. I helped to save a life. I like my job even more now."

He added that he would also like to meet the baby when he is older, if possible.

Mr Mostafa, who has been working here for about two years, said it was a miracle the baby survived. His 17-year-old son is a cleaner at a nearby block and a younger son, 11, is studying in Bangladesh.

He said: "It is amazing (the baby survived) because people are always throwing things, like bottles, down. As a father, this is one of the best things I have done in my life, saving somebody."

• Additional reporting by Pradip Kumar Sikdar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2020, with the headline 'Cleaners thought crying came from toy doll'. Print Edition | Subscribe