Foster family lauded for dedication

(From left) Ms Wahedah Rahim, her father, Mr Abdul Rahim Moidin, and mother, Madam Hawa Bee Mohammed Hussain, received the Kampung Spirit award from Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura Oasis for their dedication to three foster children. Madam Hawa Bee
(From left) Ms Wahedah Rahim, her father, Mr Abdul Rahim Moidin, and mother, Madam Hawa Bee Mohammed Hussain, received the Kampung Spirit award from Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura Oasis for their dedication to three foster children. Madam Hawa Bee says she opened her heart and home to the children as a way of giving back to society.ST PHOTO: MELODY ZACCHEUS

Woman quit job in 2001 to care for three special needs kids, with help from husband, daughter

She quit her job to raise three children but they are not her own.

Madam Hawa Bee Mohammed Hussain in 2001 became a foster mother to two special needs boys - one nine months old and the other, just 10 days old.

At the time, she was 43 and her husband, retired security officer Abdul Rahim Moidin, was 51. She had earlier signed on to join the foster parent scheme.

When the children were older, Mr Abdul Rahim would take them to school, and to the playground.

The couple's own daughter, Ms Wahedah Rahim, then 18, even signed up for classes on how to manage the older boy's fits.

Two years later, after getting the hang of caring for the boys, they took in another child - a baby girl who was just 16 days old, and who also has special needs.

EVERY CHILD MATTERS

Every child is important to Singapore. Singapore has no natural resources - only you and me, and our children. If we are able to give every child a good start, it means a lot for the country, and it means a great deal to the child.

DR MUHAMMAD FAISHAL IBRAHIM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development.

For their dedication to the three foster children, Madam Hawa Bee, 61, and her family were given the Kampung Spirit award by Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura (PPIS) Oasis yesterday.

As one of four government-appointed fostering agencies, PPIS Oasis provides support to Madam Hawa Bee's family, and a social worker visits them once every two months.

The awards ceremony took place during PPIS Oasis' official launch in Queenstown, and about 40 families attended the event.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, speaking at the event, said it was heartening to see people coming forward to be foster parents.

He said: "Every child is important to Singapore. Singapore has no natural resources - only you and me, and our children. If we are able to give every child a good start, it means a lot for the country, and it means a great deal to the child."

PPIS Oasis also gave out awards to 20 foster children for good conduct, excellence in the performing arts, and for doing well in their studies. New foster parents were also given awards to recognise their efforts.

PPIS Oasis said it will be ramping up programmes for its beneficiaries in the form of a regular support group for foster parents as well as more excursions and workshops to facilitate bonding.

Madam Hawa Bee, a former factory worker whom her foster children endearingly call "mummy", said she opened her heart and home to the children as a way of giving back to society.

Ms Waheda, 36, a customer service executive, spends time imparting values to the children, who are now in their teens.

She said: "I tell them it is okay if they feel they were not born clever, and that everyone's journey is different. I remind them consistently that they just have to do their best, and learn how to be independent.

"They have made me proud with every minor achievement, and when they passed major exams."

She added that in 2016, when her parents fell ill one after the other - her father suffered a stroke and her mother had a heart attack - the three children approached their religious teacher, and asked him to pray for them.

She said: "When we found out what they did, my parents and I were in tears. They have blessed us just as we have blessed them."

The number of foster parents in Singapore has almost doubled, from about 240 in 2013 to about 470 as of September last year.

The Fostering Scheme is an alternative care arrangement that can range from short-to long-term care for children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, among other reasons.

Their parents could also have been unable to care for them due to imprisonment or physical or mental illness.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2019, with the headline 'Foster family lauded for dedication'. Print Edition | Subscribe