'We are all a family here'

Female volunteers (from left) Mrs Yanni Adinan, Mrs Kalsom Hassan, Mrs Junainah Kusno, Mrs Fauziah Abas, and Mrs Rusmah Lamri, helping to fold prayer mats.

SINGAPORE - How do you know you have the "kampung" spirit?

When officials at An-Nur Mosque in Woodlands were told that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was going to visit during Ramadan in July, they assembled an army of volunteers within hours.

Mr Abdul Rahim Mawasi, executive chairman of the mosque, said they were initially given a day's notice.

The 47-year-old added: "In the end, we were told that because of scheduling issues, the visit would be pushed back by a week.

"But I was proud of the fact that we were able to tap on the help of so many of our volunteers in such a short time."

Built in 1980, the mosque was officially opened in May after having undergone major upgrading works since January 2011.

One of the volunteers, housewife Rusmah Lamri, 53, said: "We're all a family here so when there is work, we would all pitch in to lessen the load for each other."

That spirit of community support, or gotong royong, was highlighted by Mr Lee in his National Day Rally on Aug 18.

He spoke of how Malay-Muslim organisations actively addressed the community's socio-economic needs including initiatives like the Family Excellence Circle that supports low-income families and their children to move up in life.

He also highlighted the need for a shift, saying that communities must become more active in mobilising themselves to help one another, while the Government strengthens social safety nets and fosters fairer opportunities and rewards for all Singaporeans.

Giving back to society

That desire to give back to society drives An-Nur Mosque volunteer Salim Ahmad, 47.

Speaking about the PM's visit on July 17, the businessman recalled: "When we got the news, we quickly organised ourselves into groups.

"The male volunteers would handle the crowd and the setting up of the area where PM Lee and other congregants would break their fast, while the female volunteers took care of cooking and preparing the food."

There are more than 60 volunteers and they contribute regularly.

Said housewife Junainah Kusno: "I remember one time last year when we had to cook 10 huge pots of food for our family day last July. Everyone helped out."


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