Bangladeshi cleaner Al Amin Nowad Miah may have a wife and a two-year-old daughter back home, but thanks to some kind residents of Tampines Changkat, he has found a second family here.
The 29-year-old, who came to Singapore about seven years ago, cleans the HDB common areas in Tampines.
About three months into the job, a family that lives in a block he cleans befriended him. They now also regularly invite him to their house for meals.
"They always ask me to go makan there, and cook nasi briyani for me," said Mr Al Amin. The family, which he declined to name, even buys him festive clothes for Hari Raya every year.
"They treat me like family. (It) makes me miss home a little less," he added, breaking into a smile.
Mr Al Amin was one of five cleaners who received this year's Model Cleaner Award. For the first time, residents of Tampines Changkat decided on the best cleaners in their district by voting for them, instead of the Tampines Town Council and a grassroots committee selecting them.
Sunday, each of the five received $100 and a certificate of appreciation, while the remaining 23 cleaners were given community vouchers.
And it more than made their day. "The prize is more important than the money," said Mr Al Amin, who earns $800 a month. Another winner, Mr Nemai Bhokta Moron Bhokta, 28, said he was surprised by the win.
"It makes me happy that people notice us," he said.
MP for Tampines GRC Irene Ng, who presented the awards, said it was important to motivate the cleaners. "You hear only complaints and not people saying thank you," she said.
"We want our residents to know the names of the cleaners, instead of them being just faceless, nameless persons."
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.