Neighbours sharing a powerful bond

Neighbours sharing a powerful bond

A teacher, a friend and most importantly, a big sister.

That's how Madam Khaironisha Abdul Rahman, 30, describes her 35-year-old next-door neighbour Jamalia Sukar.

They are one of the winners of the #MyPowerNeighbour Contest organised by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. (See report above.)

For the pair, who have been lifelong neighbours at Block 412, Bedok North Avenue 2, their bond began when they were very young.

Ms Jamalia told The New Paper: "I can still remember her as a small girl in diapers.

"We would pretend to cook nasi ayam and nasi lemak with our toy cooking set."

The pair, both housewives now, regularly exchange food with each other.

Madam Khaironisha said: "We grew up together as our parents knew one another.

"Whenever my parents went out for work and couldn't take care of me, I'd go over to Jamalia's.

"Her home was my childcare centre."

Ms Jamalia even became Madam Khaironisha's tutor when the latter was in primary school. Ms Jamalia recalled fondly: "I taught her Malay and maths. She was very obedient and never gave me any trouble."

She was Madam Khaironisha's teacher in more ways than one.

As the younger woman grew up, she would turn to her neighbour for guidance and advice.

GIRL-RELATED QUESTIONS

Said Madam Khaironisha, who has an older brother: "If I had any girl-related questions like body or relationship issues, I'd ask Jamalia.

"I see her as my big sister."

And just like a big sister, Ms Jamalia has seen her through both highs and lows.

In 2011, Madam Khaironisha's mother was hospitalised after a heart attack. "I gave her my house keys and she helped me with the housework. She also comforted me and we would pray together. If not for Jamalia, I wouldn't have been able to pull through."

Ms Jamalia, who also prepared meals for her neighbour's family during that time, said: "It's nothing. I feel a responsibility to help her as I see her as part of the family."

On a happier note, Ms Jamalia was also there for Madam Khaironisha at her engagement party two years ago.

Ms Jamalia said: "When she asked me to be by her side during the party, I was happy to be part of such an important moment." Aside from touching up her neighbour's make-up, she was also a calming influence on the bride, who was a bundle of nerves.

"I was so nervous the night before, but Jamalia sat down with me and told me to think positive," Madam Khaironisha said.

So inseparable were the pair that a party guest mistook them for sisters.

But their years together as neighbours will come to an end soon.

Madam Khaironisha has successfully applied for a new built-to-order flat in Sengkang and will be collecting the keys soon.

Ms Jamalia, who has a six-year-old daughter, said: "I'm dreading the day she moves away. The neighbourhood will be really quiet."

Madam Khaironisha added: "I've read a lot of stories online about neighbours from hell. But Jamalia is a neighbour from heaven.

Got a great neighbour

WHAT#MyPowerNeighbour Contest, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, to promote and celebrate good neighbourliness.

To take part, snap a picture of yourself hanging out with your neighbour and write about him/her in 20 to 100 words.

WHEN

The second round of the contest started on Tuesday and will run until May 24. The first round ended on March 20.

PRIZES

1st prize: Two iPads

2nd prize: $100 NTUC FairPrice voucher

3rd prize: $100 NTUC FairPrice voucher

10 consolation prizes: $30 NTUC FairPrice voucher

Winners will be decided through online voting and a judging component.

HOW TO REGISTER

Visit www.mccy.gov.sg/mypowerneighbour and fill up the online form.


This article was first published on April 30, 2015.
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