Mon, Aug 31, 2009
my paper
He helps settle noise dispute, put out fire

WITHOUT air-conditioner contractor Mohammad Farhan Abdullah, 47, a dispute between a Chinese family and their Indian neighbours might have never been resolved.

The dispute began a few months ago when the Indian couple's autistic son screamed and banged on the windows each night.

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Their block is situated in front of a carpark and the smallest sounds triggered his tantrums.

The Chinese family was furious because the noise disrupted their sleep.

When he heard about the conflict, Mr Farhan, who speaks English, Malay and Mandarin, took the initiative to mediate, counselling both sides separately to be understanding, and to learn to compromise.

'We all feel stressed and irritable at times,' Mr Farhan said. 'They just needed someone impartial to speak to them.'

In a few weeks, the unhappiness was resolved.

That was not the first time Mr Farhan helped his neighbours.

Two years ago, a neighbour, Mr Sunil Agharkar, 43, sent his son over for help when his apartment caught fire and as he tried to put the fire out.

As the neighbour's wife, Mrs Jyoli Agharkar, 42, and her nine-year-old son stood stunned, Mr Farhan, who is familiar with electrical systems because of his work, rushed into the apartment and turned the central switches off.

As a result, damage to the flat was minimal, and no one was hurt.

'We know we can count on him,' said Mrs Agharkar.

Mr Francis Liew, 51, a contractor and an executive member of the Canberra Zone 1 Residents' Committee, who nominated Mr Farhan for the award, added that Mr Farhan is the model neighbour.

Recently, Mr Farhan organised a birthday party for a young boy whose mother, a single parent, could not afford to do so.

He got all the neighbours to pitch in.

'Neighbours can be closer than relatives,' said Mr Farhan.

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