At 82 years old, Mdm Aw works as a cardboard collector to support herself.
She trawls the neighbourhood of Whampoa daily for discarded cardboard boxes from dumpsters, wet markets and hawker centres. When she has gathered enough, Mdm Aw lugs her haul of cardboard boxes ¬– often as heavy as 20kg to 30kg – on a trolley and walks all the way to Toa Payoh to sell them.
For her efforts, she earns about $2 each time.
It was on one of her collection rounds that Mdm Aw bumped into Mohammad Nafiz Kamarudin, founder of Happy People Helping People (HPHP).
Nafiz shares, “When we first asked [Mdm Aw] why she was collecting boxes, she told us, ‘I want to exercise.’ After we have befriended and supported her for some time, she finally confessed and shared, ‘How can I tell people that my own son is not taking care of me?’”
With Nafiz’s help, Mdm Aw can now be assured of at least one meal a day through the volunteer-based HPHP project.
Founded in 2013, HPHP currently cares for more than 250 elderly beneficiaries across six estates in Singapore – Little India, Toa Payoh, Chinatown, Geylang, Bedok and Ang Mo Kio. These beneficiaries are aged from late 50s to 90s. Most of them are devoid of family support and earn a living by working as cardboard collectors.
HPHP also organises outings to key attractions for its elderly beneficiaries. Photo by Happy People Helping People.
Happy People Helping People