Adding a new TV, washing machine and standing fans to their 4-room flat used to seem like an extravagant luxury that 63-year-old Mdm Kng couldn't afford to give her family of 6. This was back when she used to spend about $1,000 every month fixing wires and appliances damaged by rats that were running amok in their home.
If this story sounds familiar to you, it should. We last saw Mdm Kng seven months ago at her Boon Lay Drive flat where she lives with her husband and four grandchildren. Habitat Singapore had partnered with M1 and UPS for the family's third Project HomeWorks session in November 2018 to intensively rehabilitate their home and rid the house of rats. (Read our first coverage of her astounding story here: http://bit.ly/MdmKngPHW)
Today, the money she's saved on repair works and anti-rat repellents has helped to ease the financial burden for the elderly pair of grandparents and give them the opportunity to work towards a more comfortable home environment for their grandchildren.
Other household basics like a new working gas stove, bed frame and wardrobe for her master-bedroom was also donated by UPS directly to the family.
Getting quality sleep has been another area of significant improvement, especially because Mdm Kng has to wake up at 4am to start her cleaning shift with Jurong-Clementi Town Council. “The rats don’t disturb us at night anymore. We suspect there’s only one left. At least we don’t see rat babies now. We used to find four to five of them,” Mdm Kng explains. As recommended by professional pest exterminators, she had set traps in the kitchen where the last rat is believed to be hiding. But with less noise brought about by these pesky creatures, she can sleep more soundly.
The most encouraging sign of change, however, and ultimately what really matters at the end of the day, is how the new home environment brought the family closer together. “We clean everyday, and the grandkids are not frustrated with the house anymore,” she enthuses.
Her third grandson, a 13-year-old who rented a unit in the same block, out of frustration with the previous unsanitary situation at home, now comes back for dinner and sometimes in the daytime too.
Her granddaughter, who currently works full-time at McDonald’s, also does her part by tidying her room everyday. Mdm Kng made it more homely for her by replacing plastic toyogo boxes with a wardrobe and bookshelves that were brought over from neighbours moving out.
As for Mdm Kng herself, she is in a place of gratitude. “It would be so troublesome (if Habitat hadn’t intervened). It gave me such a headache always cleaning but the house never feeling clean. So now, I clean a little bit everyday. My mood is definitely better.”
While the house is not perfect and very much a work in progress, it is heartwarming to know that a once segregated family unit has now been brought closer together through a revitalised home environment. And where there is love, there is hope for a stronger future.
*Photos of the family's grand-children were left out to protect their identity, as requested by Mdm Kng.
Spark Joy at Home
Mdm Kng's family is just one of the 400-450 cases that Project HomeWorks serves every year. Whether it is several rounds of professional pest-control services, replacement of broken furniture or man-hours invested in multiple home assessments, years of experience has taught us to be comprehensive & thorough in everything we do to make homes safe, healthy & happy for the families & elderly we serve.
But as with most things in life, there's always a cost. $1,200: That's on average how much it costs to rehabilitate each home for someone to #SparkJoyAtHome again.
And as the number of vulnerable elderly & families are set to double in the next decade, we believe Project HomeWork's next step is to reach out to as many households as possible. And we can only do this with your financial support. Give just a little more & watch your dollar transform a family's live in your very own neighbourhood: bit.ly/SparkJoyAtHome