Homeless family living beside cemetery for 3 years, finds shelter thanks to NGO

PHOTO: Project Hills

Lim Chu Kang Cemetery may be the resting place of many of Singapore's dearly departed. But for one family fallen on hard times, a makeshift shack beside the cemetery has been their home for the past three years.

Tok Adi (not his real name), whom the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Project Hills identified as a 54-year-old Singaporean, has been working as a gravedigger for about four years but struggles to support his family of three as his employer has allegedly not been paying him fairly.

Without a home to call their own, Tok Adi, his wife and their eight-year-old son resorted to living in a jungle shack near the cemetery cobbled together from discarded plywood, signboards, tarp and metal sheets.

[LIGHTING UP HOPE] - A pile of burnt wood and leaves greet us as we arrive at Tok Adi’s place. The smoke wafted in the...

Posted by Project Hills on Monday, May 11, 2020

Project Hills leapt into action when they were alerted to the family's plight on May 9, providing the family with essential supplies and helping them in their efforts to secure long-term accommodation.

They told AsiaOne today (May 14) they have found a shelter for Tok Adi with the Ministry of Social and Family Development's help. The NGO had provided his Indonesian wife and son with ferry tickets to return to Batam as they did not have long-term visitor passes.

In order to expedite Tok Adi's rehoming, Project Hills is also in touch with the Housing & Development Board.

A Family Service Centres (FSC) social worker will be following up with the family's case, they added.

As the family is illiterate, volunteers are also helping them with administrative matters and finding employment, the NGO said.

While the family's situation appears to be on the up and up, only 50 per cent of Project Hills' fundraising goal has been met.

It is hoping to raise at least $10,000 for Tok Adi and his family to defray the costs of medical check-ups, transportation and other expenses.

It will also be helping the family with their rent for the first three months and purchasing basic furniture for their new home.

AsiaOne was unable to locate Tok Adi's employer at the time of publication.

kimberlylim@asiaone.com