Little Auni now has grilles to protect her
Contractor installs window grilles free for family whose toddler almost fell from balcony. He says...
When Mr Toni Woo, 41, saw the video clip of a toddler dangling with her head stuck between a pole and the balcony outside a second-storey flat, he could not bear to finish watching it.
As a renovations contractor, he wondered how the child could have ended up in such a precarious situation and what safety features the home might lack.
When he found out from a mutual friend that the flat had no balcony and window grilles because the family could not afford them, Mr Woo decided to do his part to ensure such an incident does not happen again.
After contacting the family on Sunday to let them know his intentions, Mr Woo and his men went to their flat at Jurong East Street 32 yesterday to install the grilles for free.
Last Thursday, Naureh Fitria Auni, who will turn three in August, was asleep at home when her mother, Madam Noreen Saniri, took her older sister to school.
Her father, Mr Muhammad Fazlee Abdul Aziz, 28, who works in facility management for Singapore Mass Rapid Transit, was at work.
The toddler woke up while they were out and made her way past two doors to the balcony from where she fell while trying to retrieve an iPad that had dropped.
She was saved from falling to the ground when her head got stuck between the horizontal metal pole of a laundry rack and the balcony ledge.
As she hung precariously, two foreign workers, Mr P. Muthukumar, 24, and Mr S. Shanmuganathan, 35, scaled a water pipe to get to the second storey unit and freed her.
For their bravery, the Indian nationals were presented with a public spiritedness award by the Singapore Civil Defence Force last Friday.
The video of their heroic act has received more than two million views on YouTube.
Mr Woo, a father of three young children, told The New Paper yesterday: "It was excruciating (watching the video). I felt I was watching a horror movie.
"It's every parent's worst nightmare."
Mr Woo, who co-owns renovation firm Vivere Design Studio, felt compelled to reach out to Auni's family.
"I immediately knew I had to do something for them," he said.
"It could have been my own child in the video. That's why I offered to help."
Auni's parents were grateful and relieved after two workers installed grilles to the living room and bedroom windows and the balcony.Madam Noreen said she could finally have a peaceful night's sleep. (See report, below.)
Mr Woo, who declined to reveal the cost of the installation, said he was just doing his part.
"This is what I do. Since it's within my capacity, why not help them?"
He is not the only person who had offered to help the family.
Miss Stephanie Tan, 24, who runs interior design firm Stylerider, was so affected by TNP's video interview with Auni's parents that she e-mailed this newspaper last Friday, offering to sponsor the installation of aluminium sliding grilles in the flat.
She told TNP the installation would have cost her around $700, but added: "It's not about the dollars and cents. The video was really heartbreaking.
"When I heard the father saying he couldn't afford window grilles, I empathised with him as I came from a low-income family."
For both Miss Tan and Mr Woo, the only thing that mattered was Auni's safety.
Said Mr Woo: "As long as the girl is safe, I'm happy. Now her mother won't have to worry so much."
It was excruciating (watching the video). I felt I was watching a horror movie. It's every parent's worst nightmare.
- Mr Toni Woo
THE NEW PAPER, APR 25
Mum: I get nightmares of Auni falling
Ever since her daughter, Auni, almost fell from their second-storey flat last Thursday, Madam Noreen Saniri, 27, has been having sleepless nights.
The housewife said: "Every night, I toss and turn in bed. I wake up at least three times a night to check on Auni.
"I even have nightmares of Auni falling."
But after a kind-hearted renovations contractor, Mr Toni Woo, fitted the three-room flat with window grilles for free yesterday, Madam Noreen can finally rest easy.
She could barely contain her smile as Mr Woo and his workers put the finishing touches on the grilles.
She said: "I've been locking all the windows so that Auni can't open them. Now I can have a good night's sleep."
For Madam Noreen and her husband, Mr Muhammad Fazlee Abdul Aziz, 28, the window grilles have been a long time coming.
Mr Fazlee, who earns about $2,000 a month and also supports his brother-in-law, an ITE student, had been saving up for the grilles for the past two years. He estimated it would cost about $800.
NOT EASY TO SAVE
He said: "It's not that I didn't want to install them. I've been trying to save the money for two years. It's not easy."
When Mr Woo reached out to Mr Fazlee on Facebook with his offer on Sunday, Mr Fazlee thought it was too good to be true.
"I was quite sceptical and didn't believe it at first. But we have a mutual friend so I trusted him and we started talking," he said.
On Monday, Mr Woo went to Mr Fazlee's home to take measurements for the grilles, which were installed yesterday.
Even with grilles in place, Madam Noreen is not taking any chances.
She said: "I will never leave Auni alone at home again. She is very active and likes to explore.
"Even with the grilles, she might still play with the stove."
When TNP was at the flat yesterday, Auni was her usual playful self and in good spirits.
Still bearing a faint bruise from the incident on her left cheek, she rattled the grilles just moments after they were installed as her parents thanked Mr Woo profusely.
Shaking Mr Woo's hand, Mr Fazlee said: "Thank you very much. I am very grateful."