SINGAPORE - Deepavali will be a lot more pleasant for Madam Sandra Kanna Pitchaymuthu and her brother this year thanks to some generous donations that have transformed their gloomy, rundown flat into a cheery home.
Madam Sandra had been spending hours in the poorly-lit living room, drenched in sweat at times. The lighting was too dim and she could not afford a fan to cool herself down. The kitchen stove was also starting to malfunction in the two-room rental unit.
The 63-year-old widow and her brother both suffer from various medical conditions that prevent them from working.
She had been waiting for the Goods and Services Tax Voucher cash payout in November to buy her necessities but she was breathing a sigh of relief under the breeze of a brand new ceiling fan in a freshly refurbished home on Friday (Oct 25) - and just in time for Deepavali on Sunday.
The fan, among other appliances such as ceiling lights, a gas stove, water heater, wardrobes and a coffee table, were donated by Jamiyah Halfway House (Darul Islah) to spread cheer to needy individuals ahead of the festive celebrations.
The Jamiyah Halfway House (Darul Islah), which helps recovering drug offenders rehabilitate and reintegrate back to society, is run by Muslim voluntary welfare organisation Jamiyah Singapore.
Madam Sandra was overwhelmed with tears when she spoke with The Straits Times: "I am so happy someone cares about us. Now, everything is new in the house.
"This year I will celebrate Deepavali and invite my family and friends."
Madam Sandra is the latest beneficiary of Project Happiness, a programme launched by the Halfway House this year to bring cheer to needy Singaporeans during the festive seasons of Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas and Chinese New Year. The programme had its first run during Hari Raya Puasa in June.
Madam Sandra also receives food aid from Jamiyah Singapore.
As part of the Project Happiness, seven residents from the halfway house spent a week installing appliances and refurbishing the home, which they also spruced up with a coat of paint.
One of the residents, 51-year-old Kamil (not his real name), said: " I helped with the electrical work, fixing the lights and water heater. I am happy to be able to use my skills to help the needy.
"I am happy that I can contribute to society."
Mr Mohamad Faizal Abas, the head of Jamiyah Halfway House, noted: "Through this project, we help low-income families in their preparation to celebrate their festive holiday.
"The second objective is to help our residents, who are drug offenders, to give back to the community and to instil teamwork and caring for the community in their recovery process."