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  • Habitat for Humanity Singapore

Reclaiming their home

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

May Leng (left) and her mother Mdm Chow (right)

"How did the house get to this state?"

It's one of the most common questions we're asked when we talk to potential partners and the public at advocacy events about Project HomeWorks. And as all our volunteers would know, there's never a simple answer.

Vulnerability is not a state that anyone consciously crosses into overnight; it starts slow. For 77-year-old Mdm Chow (pictured right), working and caring for her 54-year-old daughter May Leng, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, was always manageable when she was younger.

She could even take on DIY home improvement projects. "Last time I could still paint all the walls, the door and toilet," she told Habitat. "But I can’t anymore."

Widowed for over 20 years now, it's always been just the two of them . Their 3-room purchased flat in Hougang has been their home for over 38 years. And items piling up in both bedrooms for years left the mother-daughter duo sharing a sofa in the living room instead.

"When I was still working (as a cleaner), the house never used to be so messy. I would still put things properly. She (May Leng) would take things or look for things and not put it back properly,” said the retiree.

“All these years, we never slept in the bedroom. I had 2 sofas. Initially, we each slept on 1 sofa. But I started to shift some things out into the living room and there was not enough space. So we ended with only 1 sofa and I shared it with my daughter. The way we slept was my head faced one direction and my daughter slept the opposite direction. I dare not move, the space was too small.. I would sleep for 3 hours only then have to wake up. It was not comfortable.”

“I want to throw things but I have no strength and my hands are numb. I can’t hold too heavy things. It always drops from hands onto the floor. I just wish my health is better," said Mdm Chow.

A little bit of support - and hope that things can improve - was all Mdm Chow needed to get going again. Their case was referred to the Project HomeWorks team by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS) Social Work Department.

In November, volunteers - spurred on by the very motivated mother-daughter pair - came in for two Project HomeWorks sessions to clear out both bedrooms and stamp out a small but growing bed bug infestation.

And it was the first time in decades that Mdm Chow and May Leng finally got to have their own beds, in their very own rooms.

“It’s because you helped me then now I have my personal space back. I can sleep better. I still sleep for 3 hours but at least now I can take a nap in the afternoons," said Mdm Chow.

At the very heart of Habitat's work is the belief that with a little help, families like Mdm Chow & May Leng all have the potential to stand on their own.


At Habitat, we believe that everyone deserves to have a decent place to live.

As we enter the season of giving, we hope you consider helping us impact more lives in 2019 by supporting our year-end #HomeThisChristmas campaign.

We need your help to raise at least $12,000, so that we can hit the ground running as soon as the new year starts. Donate now & give someone the gift of a decent #HomeThisChristmas.


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