By Sondra Foo, Corporate Communications and Marketing

There is an adage, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

This certainly holds true for Mdm Taksiah Razak’s family. For years, Mdm Taksiah, 55, has been scouring through discarded items at void decks in search of things she could bring home for her family.

With eight children in tow from her second marriage, life is a constant struggle to provide for and feed her family of ten people. The days when her children were growing up were particularly challenging for the family, recounted Mdm Taksiah, as tears trickled down. The pain lingers, despite the 20 years that have passed.

She had juggled multiple jobs to make ends meet. Besides cleaning homes, she also worked at a spa and cooked food to sell. Her children sold these foods (nasi lemak, curry puff and noodles) around the estate in MacPherson. There were times they did not have enough rice or ran out of diapers, and they had to seek help from their neighbours. Her family was known as the rag-and-bone household of their estate. They scrimped and saved whatever they could, securing free textbooks and bringing home items that were discarded - a freezer, washing machine, TV and even bedsheets.

When her children fell ill, they would sleep it out rather than visit the doctor, in order to save money. With their monthly housing instalments in arrears, they had to give up their flat in MacPherson. Her family relocated to Malaysia from 2009 to 2015, and returned to Singapore thereafter.

One of her sons, M. Arshad, 23, became physically disabled after a high fever at seven months. M. Arhsad stayed at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled from 2010 to 2018. The rest of her children, four boys and three girls stay with Mdm Taksiah and her husband. With three studying in tertiary institutions and four in secondary school, the family’s expenses go towards food, school-related items and and healthcare.

Mdm Taksiah’s husband, 53, is plagued by health issues that impedes his mobility. He suffers from pain and swelling in his leg. Since his condition worsened last year, he could no longer help out at a food stall he had been working in. Unfortunately, Mdm Taksiah has had to endure a similar fate. Recently, she tore her tissue on both legs and now walks with much difficulty. After being warded in the hospital, she had to give up her jobs as a cleaner and part-time masseur.

Today, the family’s expenses include utilities, room rental and conservancy charges. Mounting bills and the lack of income have created much stress and frustration in her family. Fortunately, Mdm Taksiah’s family benefits from several assistance schemes, including the Singapore Red Cross’ Family LifeAid.

Since she was introduced to the Singapore Red Cross last year, our volunteers visit the family every month, bringing food vouchers to them. This arrangement enables Mdm Taksiah to buy fresh foods for her family, taking a big load off her shoulders.

“I use the Red Cross vouchers to buy rice, cereal, chicken, eggs, bread, potato and healthy beverage for my family. Thank you so much for relieving my burden. Now we have enough food to eat. With your help, we can ride through the difficult times,” says Mdm Taksiah with gratitude.

By Kennice Setiadi, Volunteer and Sondra Foo, Corporate Communications and Marketing

The mood of anticipation lingered on in the air as the residents of the Red Cross Home for the Disabled (RCHD) were wheeled into the Multi-purpose Hall on 13 December.

Efforts by The Portcullis Group

Around the hall, corporate volunteers from The Portcullis Group were all decked out in red, soaking in the festive mood for Christmas. The Christmas celebration is an annual event organised by The Portcullis Group to bring love and joy to the residents and caregivers during this festive period.

In his speech, Singapore Red Cross Chairman Mr Tee Tua Ba shared that, The Portcullis Group has been volunteering at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled for more than 10 years. The staff of The Portcullis Group visited the residents of the Home regularly and forged bonds with the residents and caregivers alike. Over the years, they had organised many internal fundraisers to raise funds for the local humanitarian services of the Singapore Red Cross and the Home. The staff of The Portcullis Group also donated a piano to the Home. The Portcullis Group commemorated its 10th anniversary of its corporate social responsibility efforts with the Red Cross Home for the Disabled through a fundraising gala dinner in November 2017.

Chairman Tee added that “the successful fundraising gala dinner was made possible with the support of Mr David Chong, the President of The Portcullis Group. The target was to raise S$200,000. The amount raised at the fundraiser surpassed expectations, raising more than S$270,000.”

With the funds raised, Chairman Tee said, “The Portcullis Group then developed a ceiling hoist system to enhance the quality of care provided to the residents while easing the workload of the caregivers.”

Chairman Tee also shared his opinion about corporate social responsibility (CSR), “CSR is where companies do not think solely of

making money but think of helping the less fortunate in the society. People want to work in a company which thinks of others.”

He also thanked and lauded Ms Kim Boo, Human Resource Director of The Portcullis Group for spearheading its CSR efforts over the past ten years.

Despite all their bustle at work, the staff from The Portcullis Group constantly take turns to visit the Home to interact with the residents every month.

Portcullis is a very strong supporter of the home. They believe in the cause that we are doing,” Serene Chia, Director of RCHD said.

The unwavering contributions of the employees of The Portcullis Group to RCHD were attested by Resident Manager Fazila Suliah, of The Portcullis Group, “I have worked in the Portcullis for more than 12 years. I came here once every two months. We take turns to volunteer.”

Kim Boo, the Human Resources Director of The Portcullis Group said, “we help to feed and chat with the residents.”

Performances bring joy

Following the speech by Chairman, a series of performances ensued.

Next, a carolling group serenaded the audience to the familiar tunes of “Jingle bells”, “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World” and other Christmas carols.

A guy in red hat and costume was handing out vibrantly coloured balloons twisted into a wide variety of unique shapes to the residents.

In came jolly Santa, with his rosy cheeks, stout frame and signature Christmas attire and hat. Santa presented gifts to the caregivers for their dedication, love and care for the residents as Singapore Red Cross (SRC) Chairman Mr Tee Tua Ba looked on. Retired judge and husband of Ms Kim Boo, Mr George Wei masqueraded as Santa, bringing joy to the residents and caregivers alike.

The staff of the Portcullis Group then patiently and fed the residents.

Towards the end, resident Quan Yao, animatedly waved back at the volunteers, thanking them for organising the joyous Christmas celebration.

Indeed, the radiant smiles on the faces of our residents and caregivers say it all. It is hoped that each Portcullis volunteer involved will be heartened in the knowledge that their tireless efforts practising for the performance and hard work planning and organising the event have brightened and touched many lives.