Restaurant owners to donate proceeds to help autistic boy
Bedok restaurant to donate 30 per cent of its takings next week to help autistic boy
The owners of a Western food restaurant are donating part of its proceeds to help an 11-year-old boy who has autism.
Miss Nurul Jannah Saharuddin, 23, and Miss Indah Nabielah Zulkarnain, 24, who run T Bob's Corner in Bedok, are giving up 30 per cent of the eatery's takings from Oct 18 to 23 to help the boy, Akid, after hearing about his plight from a musician who performed at their restaurant recently.
Earlier this year, The New Paper reported on how Akid had become more aggressive and violent because of his condition. (See report below.)
The women bought over the business at Block 527, Bedok North Street 3, two months ago with the help of their fathers.
Miss Indah said that donating a sizeable chunk of their week-long revenue would hit their take-home income, but both of them shrugged it off.
Miss Jannah told The New Paper: "We thought 30 per cent was a good number. If you want to help, it has to be a substantial amount, even if it hurts a little."
Miss Indah said: "Well, businesses come with risks, right?"
Miss Indah Nabielah Zulkarnain TNP PHOTOS: AHMAD FARUQ ROZALI
Only their income will be affected as their staff of two chefs and three part-time waiters will continue to draw their full wages.
Miss Jannah, an RMIT University business management graduate, said: "It would demoralise them otherwise. So we both decided we would make the sacrifice so Akid can benefit from it."
They estimate that they will lose about 15 to 20 per cent of their take-home income for that week.
It's their way of giving back, they said.
Miss Indah, a life sciences graduate, became involved in fund-raising activities while studying at the National University of Singapore.
Her experience in volunteering at an orphanage in Indonesia five years ago also played a part in making her want to help Akid.
"Five years later, the children (at the orphanage) are still messaging me on Facebook, asking me when I'm returning to visit. The fact that these kids remember us means that they treasure every little bit we do, even if we didn't do much," she said.
Agreeing, Miss Jannah said: "My parents told me, 'You don't need money to be nice'.
"(Indah) didn't have to fork out a million dollars to have the kids remember her. It's just the things we do that matter."
Miss Jannah's path to volunteering was more personal.
A decade ago, she was a beneficiary of a South East Community Development Programme financial aid programme.
Her mother, who has fought thyroid cancer for close to two decades, was also a source of inspiration.
"She never saw her condition as something to hold her back. She still gave back by volunteering on weekends," Miss Jannah said.
She plans to ask her musician father, Mr Saharuddin Jalil, to invite some bands to perform at the restaurant next week in the hope of attracting more customers.
Asked if they are worried about coping with the expected crowd, Miss Indah said with a smile: "That will be a good problem."
Other companies which give back
On New Year's Day this year, Neo Garden Catering donated all its takings to charity.
Called "Begin with Love", the one-day charity drive is an annual event.
The catering arm of the Neo Group raised more than $160,000 for six beneficiaries this year, said group chairman and chief executive Neo Kah Kiat.
He told The New Paper: "A good year begins with a good start. By making this a yearly initiative, we want to start each new year by doing good, contributing back to society positively, and remembering that while we immerse ourselves in the festivities, it is also important to remember the less fortunate.
"As we continue to give back to our community through the 'Begin With Love' initiative, we hope to inspire more companies to follow suit because every bit counts when it comes to giving."
The BreadTalk Group, which owns bakery BreadTalk and restaurants such as Din Tai Fung and Carl's Jr, have given back to society in more ways than one.
After the 2004 tsunami, Breadtalk donated 90 cents to the Singapore Red Cross Society for every bun sold at $2.30.
Other initiatives by the BreadTalk Group include a waste compost project with OCBC Bank and Yu Neng Primary School to turn cake waste from the central kitchen into fertiliser or compost for plants.
A spokesman said: "At BreadTalk, we are very committed to the mantra of giving back to society. So committed are we that every staff member at the HQ is encouraged to contribute to corporate social responsibility.
"Each HQ staff member is given one day off a year so that they can volunteer for a cause they feel passionate about."
Sound therapy has made autistic boy 'calmer'
Mr Muhammad Ridzuan Raman, 40, was surprised when he learnt of a charity drive for his son Akid.
Western food restaurant T Bob's Corner will be donating 30 per cent of its takings from Oct 18 to 23 to Akid.
"I'm honoured and touched by their actions. But I know I can't expect people to donate money to me," the driver, who had previously held a fund-raising campaign for his son, told The New Paper yesterday.
Akid, 11, was diagnosed with autism five years ago.
In February, TNP reported (report here) about Akid's condition, and how he turned aggressive at the beginning of this year.
He would break windows or doors, and run away from home.
STRAPPED TO BED
At the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), he had to be strapped to the hospital bed whenever he turned violent to prevent him from harming himself and others.
SUPPORT: T Bob's Corner restaurant's Miss Indah Nabielah Zulkarnain and local musician Saharuddin Jalil (standing) are helping to raise funds for Mr Muhammad Ridzuan Raman (seated) and his son Akid. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN
The boy also deliberately pulled out two of his own teeth. He would also punch or bite if he did not get what he wanted.
In a phone interview yesterday, Mr Ridzuan, who has two other sons, aged 12 and nine, and a daughter aged 10, said that Akid had been admitted to IMH four times between August last year and June this year.
His condition improved only two months ago after he went for sound therapy - the use of music to improve an autistic child's communication and behaviour, among other things.
"He has become calmer. There's no more agitation. He's no longer restless, and is a bit more cheerful. I hear laughter here and there," his father said.
"It'll be great if he can rely on therapy instead of medication."
THE NEW PAPER, FEB 25
Mr Ridzuan hopes to send Akid for another therapy session but is worried about the cost.
A four-day programme will set him back by $2,200.
Mr Ridzuan earns only $1,400 a month as a driver. He is not on any financial assistance, and his children have stopped receiving help from a family service centre for their education needs, he said.
He is now trying to apply for financial assistance for his children through their school.
"My priority is to get Akid better before I worry about everything else," he said.
I'm honoured and touched by their actions. But I know I can't expect people to donate money to me. - Mr Muhammad Ridzuan Raman (above), father of Akid, who was diagnosed with autism five years ago