Thrifty mother of 77th Street's Elim Chew

Thrifty mother of 77th Street's Elim Chew

SINGAPORE - She is the mother of one of Singapore's most famous businesswomen, but retiree Ooi Kooi Tin (above), 70, is one thrifty Singaporean.

The mother of fashion chain 77th Street founder Elim Chew prefers to take the bus instead of taxi, and would rather not eat at a restaurant even on special occasions.

For Mother's Day this year, she asked her daughter to take her to her favourite hawker centre in Bedok for a dinner which cost all of $14.

Trips overseas are not for holidays but in aid of the less fortunate - a cause which has kept her busy since she retired as a hairstylist in 1989.

She said: "I volunteer because this way, my life becomes meaningful."

Madam Ooi also volunteers at Changi Prison and at her church, counselling inmates and foreign workers. She began volunteering in 1996, when her church started to reach out to Chinese workers living in the Tanjong Rhu area.

Speaking to The New Paper at the family's rented Bedok bungalow, she spoke of the people she has helped over the years. For example, she makes a monthly trip to Tanjung Pinang in Indonesia, where she helps the poor.

She spoke of a single-parent family, where the father had died leaving behind young children. Not knowing what to do, the children left the body on a bed. She stepped in to help organise a funeral, renting a shop space for the wake.

Following her experience, she now hopes to set up a casket charity.

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