One son used to roam the streets aimlessly, then smoke with friends at the void deck when he returned. Another would hang out for hours at the nearby playground.
But a project that provides support to needy families living in interim rental flats is now helping keep Madam Ririn Sri Rudiarti's sons better occupied at a "homework cafe".
Reluctant to be cooped up in a four-room rental flat shared with two other families, her sons used to avoid going home to study and fared badly in school.
"It's hot and stressful in here and disputes would break out between the families," said the 45-year-old housewife.
Now, her sons head to the corner in Siglap Community Club, where volunteers coach them in their studies.
Each day, about 30 children go to the "cafe", one of several initiatives under Project 4650.
The project was started last year by the South East Community Development Council to better coordinate social help to residents of rental flats at Block 46 and Block 50 in Bedok South.
"It's illustrative of how the community came together and responded to the needs of fellow citizens," said South East District Mayor Mohamad Maliki Osman yesterday.
He was speaking at the district's annual meeting, which was attended by over 400 partners and volunteers.
Some 70 per cent of the volunteers at the Homework Cafe live in private estates, and this was an instance of "the haves helping the have-nots", he said.
Ms Janice Soo, one of the founders, said: "In the past, the children cannot sit still but now they will bring their books along."
The 19-year-old, who is waiting to enter university, added: "The children are more motivated because they know that people are here for them."
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