Halfway house residents do bit for community with project to spruce up homes

Madam Siti Hajar (centre) and her daughter Nur Fatin Hidayah and son Muhamad Iman Hakim at their newly renovated home in Sembawang on Oct 8, 2021. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Nur Fatin Hidayah and her brother Muhamad Iman Hakim with the laptop which was given to them by the Ashram, on Oct 14, 2021. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Home-based learning was a struggle for Madam Siti Hajar's 10-year-old son before the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB)-Ashram Halfway House stepped in to help.

Now, he not only has a new laptop but a study table as well, said the housewife, who is a widow.

Her daughter, Miss Nur Fatin Hidayah, 18, said: "My brother was using his cousin's old laptop which would shut down suddenly."

As a beneficiary of the halfway house's new community outreach event, Project Home Pride, the family's living conditions are now much better.

The initiative to renovate and refurbish homes is a collaboration with Sembawang GRC, which helped identify the first two families. The other is an Indian family of four.

Through the project, the halfway house residents are able to apply new skills they acquire from various programmes offered by Ashram and do their bit for the community.

This is part of their rehabilitative and reintegration programme, said chairman of HEB-Ashram Halfway House, Professor N. Ganapathy.

He hopes that Project Home Pride will have a positive impact on the residents: "When they know that they can touch other people's lives, it acts as a turning point."

HEB-Ashram Halfway House was started in 1999 as a halfway house to rehabilitate and reintegrate Indian substance abusers into society.

Over the last two decades, it has supported about 1,200 residents and their families.

It currently houses 18 people who are aged 32 to 74, and is co-funded by the Singapore Prison Service and HEB.

Residents take part in different activities such as individual or group counselling, motivational talks, art therapy and meditation as part of their rehabilitation process.

HEB-Ashram Halfway House also involves its residents in community projects to prepare them for re-entry into society.

"HEB-Ashram Halfway House must not be another penal institution. It must become a community institution with porous walls," said Prof Ganapathy.

Residents reburbishing furniture belonging to Mdm Siti Hajar at the basketball court next to The Ashram Eco Garden at the halfway house located in Sembawang on Oct 8, 2021. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

One of the residents - who wanted to be known only as Sara, 46 - who was involved in Project Home Pride said he was happy that he was able to make a difference and hopes to continue to do charity work even after he leaves the halfway house.

Madam Siti and her children, who also had their house repainted, old appliances replaced and new furniture brought in, are grateful for the help.

"The new paint really brightens up the room," said Miss Fatin.

One of their first visitors on Sunday (Oct 17) was Sembawang GRC MP, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

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