Our Community
HEARt of SINGAPORE: Meet Ms Suzana Ahmad
Ms Suzana Ahmad is quite a star, not just in the holding room where she chatted with Home Team News’ Mabelle Yeo on 07 June 2014.

“What?!!” exclaimed the feisty Yellow Ribbon Community Project Volunteer from Tampines Changkat laughingly when told she didn’t look her age.

“Must be the moisturizer,” she added, chuckling unreservedly.

image_20140609lr2FHSiaassm
Ms Suzana Ahmad has been a grassroots volunteer and the Chairman of her Residents’ Committee at Tampines Changkat for 10 years.   PHOTO: Heather Leong


Ms Suzana Ahmad is quite a star, not just in the holding room where she chatted with Home Team News on 07 June 2014 before the Yellow Ribbon Community Project Awards and Appreciation Luncheon was about to commence.

 

The gregarious 56-year-old has been a grassroots volunteer and the Chairman of her Residents’ Committee at Tampines Changkat for 10 years, and her passion for reaching out to the disadvantaged was apparent when she recounted how they got to know about a resident’s (Read Maria’s story) plight through the Yellow Ribbon Community Project.

The straight-talking Project Executive with the Daily Mail Group conducts house visits with her Residents’ Committtee members after work. “We make it a point to visit often, depending on the needs of the residents. We visit to see to their welfare needs, be it financial, educational, medical, and now Yellow Ribbon-related too,” said Ms Ahmad.

She observed that the greatest obstacles facing the families of inmates and ex-offenders include embarrassment, guilt and reclusiveness, as well as a lack of understanding from the community, all of which exacerbate the reintegration challenges they and their incarcerated loved ones already have to contend with. “The families of inmates feel like prisoners. They feel as guilty as those in prison, so the domino effect kicks in, whereby they start to shut themselves in, become reclusive and demoralised. It’s very sad. People need to talk to people,” said Ms Ahmad.  

When asked if she finds the issues she faces while volunteering daunting, she replied: “I will just take ‘me’ time and travel, if I feel tired. I have never thought of giving up.”

“I learned this from young from my father who was also a grassroots leader,” Ms Ahmad added. “My parents are very compassionate and my father treats us like friends, told us to be ourselves, assured us that we are all unique, and taught us to be independent and to voice out if we feel something is wrong.”

Ms Ahmad has eight siblings.

“Our mother said when we see the disadvantaged, this might be their day of trial, but tomorrow might be ours. So, treat others the way we want to be treated,” she continued, adding that their father used to buy food for newly arrived migrants and strangers in the neighbourhood during the early years of Singapore’s Independence.  

“We are all family, so we should look out for one another,” said Ms Ahmad.

Her sister, 42-year-old Ms Noor Widiyahti Amat, an Executive at Tampines Changkat Nature Centre overseen by Ms Ahmad, lives with her and shares her passion for travelling.

While recollecting poignant encounters during her years as a volunteer, Ms Ahmad fell silent and choked back her tears. Her sister Noor then shared about their Butterfly Garden at Tampines Changkat and their friend and fellow volunteer Victor, who had recently passed away.

“Victor had late-stage cancer, became depressed and suicidal, but he later joined Tampines Changkat’s butterfly interest group, rode his motorbike to the garden everyday to take care of the garden for us, and taught us about butterflies and caterpillars. He simply forgot about his sickness,” said Ms Noor Amat.

“He died one year later but told his daughter that that was the best year of his life. This interest group we set up brings out the best in people,” Ms Ahmad added the moment she was more composed.

“You know, butterflies can identify who rear them,” interjected Ms Noor Amat in excitement. “I learnt a lot after joining the group and am feeling better about myself too! It uplifted me from my physical conditions and helped me become more independent. I gained a lot of knowledge about plants, and gardening.” 
 

image_201406090W29henvreXx
"We are very close," said Ms Noor Widiyahti Amat (in red). PHOTO: Heather Leong


“So, you see, not just our beneficiaries learnt, we learnt from them too. We volunteers gain too,” concluded Ms Ahmad while she and her sister were ushered to the Yellow Ribbon Community Project Awards Ceremony to share their stories with the crowd.

 

*****

Find out what else were said by guests during the Yellow Ribbon Community Project Awards and Appreciation Luncheon 2014, HERE.

 

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Mabelle Yeo
  2. 10 June 2014
Back to top