Updated: May 25
Mdm Sarimah Amat is a truly inspirational figure.
Amongst her many credentials, they include - a former silat instructor, a foster mother and the founder of Project Pencil Singapore, started in 2014.
For all her efforts, Mdm Sarimah was recognised as the inaugural Yishunite of the Year in 2020. The award recognises a Nee Soon GRC resident who has contributed to the community and someone who embodies the spirit of service and giving.
Along with fellow neighbours in Yishun, Mdm Sarimah started a community initiative called Yishun 71 in 2020, just before COVID-19 hit Singapore. The initiative aimed to render help to vulnerable seniors and needy families living in 17 blocks in her estate by providing groceries, delivering food and even taking them for health check-ups. In hindsight, the formation of the group had been a timely one - they were able to provide support just as the residents were hit by the effects of the pandemic.
The incident that sparked her to establish such an initiative was a tragic one:
“My neighbour who was staying on the eighth floor had passed away and for one whole week, no one knew about it until the next door neighbour detected a foul odour. So we called the police and found out that he had passed away. The way that he passed on was heart-wrenching. Nobody wants to go like that.”
“So after that incident, I was approached by a senior in this block to start a new organisation. From there, we decided to gather our neighbours and started Yishun 71.”
Mdm Sarimah and her group of committed and gold-hearted volunteers are like a close-knit family. For them, good neighbours watch out for each other and they are the most important people should there be any emergency in the block. In addition, Mdm Sarimah has a 24-hour hotline for the residents, where she assures the residents that they are able to call her anytime for any emergency.
“Sometimes when we need help, we just cannot get in touch with the next of kin. So the first responders would be neighbours. I prepared myself, we neighbours prepared ourselves, should any emergency arise, we would come and help no matter what time it is. Once, there was a resident who passed away at 1am and we helped. As the closest neighbours, we are the first people who will turn up at the door if there is an emergency.”
It is clear that knowing your neighbours and lending a helping hand to them whenever they need it is crucial for the betterment of our community.
We were inspired by Mdm Sarimah’s story and we too want to bring cheer and ease to our elderly.
Our Adopt an Elder campaign is a part of our collaboration with Project Pencil Singapore (PPS) @ Yishun 71. The project aims to support the elderly families residing in a block catered for senior citizens, in Yishun by encouraging our community to ‘adopt an elder’ and sponsor their basic necessities every month.
When we met the families during our rounds of assessment, it was clear that the residents are well-acquainted with Mdm Sarimah.
“There’s one sentence by a senior, they say this block is like a departure hall, waiting for their last flight. So, we don’t want that. We want our seniors to enjoy their silver age with a sense of merriment and happiness, to be able to make their life more colourful. Even though they are living modestly and not lavishly, they are still happy.”
The residents we met shared their predicament and situation and for most of them, it was heart-wrenching to see them in the state they are in. Together with Mdm Sarimah and her team, our Adopt an Elder project aims to uplift the seniors emotionally and provide them with daily essentials that they need, on top of other assistance as well.
“I do believe this block requires more attention because these elderly, if we look closely, are like our mothers and fathers, our own relatives. We cannot see them as strangers because we will be asked, ‘why didn’t you help when they were struggling?’.”
“So as much as possible for those out there who have the intention to help out, let’s do this together with sincerity. If we take care of our neighbours, God will take care of us too.”
Join us in our efforts to provide a better standard of living and a more comfortable life to the elderly. Often, we are so busy growing up that we tend to forget about those who are growing old. Together, let’s work together and take care of those who took care of us growing up.