He's overwhelmed by their generosity

He's overwhelmed by their generosity
Neighbours organised a garage sale and donated money to the family of Pasir Ris fire victim Rafi Basiran.
PHOTO: Mohd Rafi Basiran

Some gave their time and money. Others donated their possessions.

One even cooked briyani to sell.

All to raise funds for Mr Mohd Rafi Basiran and his family. Their home, a four-room flat at Block 110, Pasir Ris Drive 1, was damaged in a blaze on March 27.

Mr Rafi, 49, a manager at Changi Airport, had lived in the flat with his wife, 49, daughter, 22, and son, 18, since 2008.

The fire, which destroyed almost everything in the flat, hit his family particularly hard as they did not have fire insurance.

But it galvanised their neighbours, who took it upon themselves to help the family get back on their feet.

Among their efforts was a garage sale last Saturday, which was held at the void deck of Block 110.

Mr Zainal Sapari, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC (left) posing with RC members and organisers of the garage sale on Saturday, April 9, 2016. Photo: Mohd Rafi Basiran


Manned by the residents, the 10 stalls offered everything from popsicles, teh tarik, packet food and satay, to clothes, household appliances, baby items, and even face painting.

Some items like standing fans, clothes and leather bags were new. Others were pre-loved.

There were also luxury goods - like women's shoes from Salvatore Ferragamo and Manolo Blahnik - going for between $400 and $900.

The most expensive item was a $900 Coach leather handbag.

Ms Nurfitriah Abdul Rahman, 26, one of the organisers, said the woman who donated a $420 turquoise Ferragamo shoes was a colleague of hers.

Said the teacher: "When she heard about the garage sale, she told me to sell her shoes and give the proceeds to Mr Rafi's family.

"I believe she used to teach Mr Rafi's daughter."

Around 500 visitors attended the sale, which went on from 10am to 7.30pm.

Food items were the first to sell out, including some 25kg of frozen satay.

The $2 clothes were also popular.

Every time an item was sold, all the vendors shouted "sold" and clapped to thank the supporters, said Madam Mashitah Aman, 39, another organiser.

"People of different races from Marine Parade, Hill View Avenue, Woodlands, Tampines and Mount Pleasant came. It's great to see that other people care," she added.

Food items were the first to sell out. Packets of noodles, rice and traditional malay kueh were crowd favourites. Photo: Mohd Rafi Basiran


A woman living in Doha, Qatar, bought the Ferragamo shoes for $180 after she found out about the sale from Facebook.

Her husband, who was in Singapore last week, collected the shoes on her behalf on Saturday before flying back to Doha.

Said Ms Nurfitriah: "She read the story about the fire in The New Paper and said she knew Mr Rafi as they were former colleagues at Changi Airport."

The report, which was carried in TNP on April 9, described how residents in the estate had rallied to help Mr Rafi's family.

Madam Mashitah's husband, Mr Iskandar Muhammad, 41, recounted a couple from a mosque at Mount Pleasant.

They were ready for their morning exercise when they read Mr Rafi's story in TNP.

Mr Iskandar said: "They came dressed in their exercise outfit and said it would be better do to some charity instead."

The couple were among many who gave cash to the organisers or asked about the donation box.

Unknown to Mr Rafi, who said he was overwhelmed by the generosity, one resident also cooked 70 packets of briyani at $10 a packet.

The neighbour, who wanted to be known only as Ms Dayang, 37, told TNP she later handed Mr Rafi's family $700 from the sale.

Said Mr Rafi: "I'm touched by my neighbours' efforts to help my family. I feel bad because I never intended to burden them with my problems."

MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Zainal Sapari, who was at the sale with residents' committee members, said: "I hope with the help given from neighbours and the community, it would ease the financial burden on the family to restore their home."

The MP advised residents to have some basic fire insurance for their homes.

Proceeds from the sale and donations from Mr Rafi's friends and relatives totalled about $10,000.

TNP also learnt that a company, Jong Seng Design and Renovation, has been painting and rewiring Mr Rafi's flat for free.

Its owner, Mr Michael Ho, said yesterday that the work, which would have cost about $3,000, is almost "80 per cent done".

This article was first published on April 15, 2016.
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