Volunteers save elderly couple from a life among bed bugs
The one-room flat was dark, musty and and had a number of uninvited guests - bed bugs.
For the past six years, Mr Abdul Wahab Sarman, 79, and his wife, 69-year-old Madam Asnah Mohamad, have been living in a small rental flat in Bendemeer Road.
The retired couple has no childrenand receives a monthly sum of $648 from ComCare.
In April this year, Mr Wahab and his wife started noticing bed bugs in their house.
At night, they were unable to sleep due to the bed bugs' bites.
In an attempt to rid the bugs, they placed orange peel in areas where the bugs were thriving-under their bed, sofa and wardrobe.
However, this was futile and the infestation gradually worsened.
Their relatives who used to sleep over at their house on weekends or bring them out for meals, soon stopped visiting.
"Nobody wants to come to my house," said Mr Wahab, who is a former civil servant. "They're frightened of (the) bugs."
Fortunately, their case was referred to non-profit housing organisation, Habitat for Humanity Singapore.
Under the organisation's Project HomeWorks initiative, a team of five volunteersset out to clean and improve the living conditions of the elderly couple's flat last Saturday (May 27).
Bug-infested furniture such as the mattress and wardrobe were discarded and replaced. The walls were given a fresh coat of paint and the floor scrubbed clean.
The volunteers also helped to sort and organise their belongings, many of which were kept in plastic bags. Their clothes were also sent to a laundry service.
In total, the intensive cleaning session lasted around six hours.
Ms Chua Ching Wei, 19, who has been a Habitat Singapore volunteer since 2015, said: "From previous experiences with bed bugs, we know they are not easy to get rid of and not easy to live with.
"So, it was quite heart wrenching to know that Mr Wahab and his wife have been living like that for quite a while."
This home cleaning exercise is part of the lead-up to Home Sweep Home, Singapore's largest cleaning event slated for July 8.
To find out more go to www.habitat.org.sg/home-sweep-home