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  • Habitat for Humanity Singapore

A hand up to empower our elderly

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

If you belong to the camp who believes that vulnerable Singaporeans like our elderly are too entitled or too dependent on charity hand-outs, we have a story to share that will renew your faith in extending a hand to help someone stand on their own feet.

At 67-years-old and battling stage 2 Colon Cancer, Mr Lim still lives up to the "never say die" essence of the tougher, older generations of Singaporeans. Habitat Singapore first met him after his case was referred to Project HomeWorks by a social worker at Kreta Ayer Senior Activity Centre in July. By then, Mr Lim had been living with a bed bug infestation in his one-room rental flat at Chin Swee for about 5 years.

It wasn't just that he didn't know who he could ask for help; Mr Lim seemed reluctant to trouble anybody and found his own way to cope with his living situation.

“When I was still working, after work I would come home at night and drink beer before I go to bed. When I drink, the bed bugs will bite me but I don’t feel it. So it’s not itchy," he said.

When he was younger, Mr Lim used to work at a fruits stall opened by his father before being employed as a hotel dishwasher for the last 20 years. But Mr Lim had to stop work after his cancer diagnosis last year: "I was losing so much weight, I was scared. So I went to see the doctor. The doctor told me it was cancer and I just sighed.”

But Mr Lim soldiered on, even after surgery and having to live with a colostomy bag. “It’s doesn’t hurt. I can still look after myself. After I rest a bit at home, I will still tidy up the house (and) sweep or mop the floor," he said.

But bed bug infestations require more work to eliminate than Mr Lim is physically and financially able to manage on his own. After professional fumigation arranged by Habitat, volunteers from creative agency Pinwheel came in to supply the hands and labour to carry out the rest of the work. After just 1 session, the volunteers were able to:

  • discard Mr Lim's infested furniture,

  • intensively clean the living/sleeping area,

  • seal up all the gaps in the wall and electrical casings,

  • re-paint the living room walls

  • set up Mr Lim's new bedframe

Spark Joy At Home

Mr Lim's case is exemplary of the type of impact Habitat aims to achieve: instead of just a hand-out, our mission is to empower people on improve their lives by giving them a hand-up. But there's still more work to be done for Mr Lim's home, and for the hundreds of other families we have yet to work with.

And we can only do it with your help. On average, it costs $1,200 to fully rehabilitate a home for a vulnerable individual or family. Every dollar you donate will help us help them. Give just a little more & help someone #SparkJoyAtHome again:


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