Keeping our centre spick and span, together with my friends
How many people can say they have the chance to work together happily alongside their close buddies for decades?
For Safiha Beevi and Ng Hui Sze, they share a close friendship of nearly 20 years, while working alongside each other. The duo is part of the Clean and Green (C&G) Programme at the SIA-MINDS Employment Development Centre (SMEDC). Located at Margaret Drive, SMEDC provides employment and vocational training programmes for Persons with Intellectual Disability (PWIDs).
Five days a week, they are tirelessly scrubbing, mopping the floor, and ensuring that all 12 to 15 of the centre’s toilets across six floors are spick and span, to maintain a clean and conducive environment for the staff and clients at MINDS. They do this from 9am to 3.30pm, as part of a 13-strong janitorial team of trainees.
On Fridays, they also handle office cleaning, doing everything from vacuuming, wiping glass doors, wiping the table and chairs, and clearing office bins. It may sound like tiring work, but they do this with a smile and a huge sense of pride.
The two friends share similar stories. Both started off with packing airline headsets before moving to C&G.
Safiha Beevi, 40, who has intellectual disability, joined MINDS in 2005. A great team player, she is receptive to instructions and is always eager to learn new skills.
Throughout the years she has been at SMEDC, she received several Best Trainee of the Year awards for her outstanding behaviour and contributions. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, and watching cartoons and Indian movies.
“I like to wipe the table, sweep the floor, and do activity with my friends and training officer. I want to go out work and earn more money,” says Safiha.
Hui Sze joined MINDS in 2001. The 42-year-old has Down syndrome with intellectual disability. An independent worker, Hui Sze is observed to be meticulous in her work. She has a caring personality and supports peers with mobility concerns.
Like Safiha, she is known for her exemplary work ethic, having won several best trainee awards in her years at SMEDC.
She enjoys trying new foods, dancing, solving jigsaw puzzles, and has a special interest in collecting plastic bags.
Training officer Raeburn Gerard Arnold adds, “As they work together regularly to problem solve and carry out tasks together, they get along well and gradually developed a friendship over the years.”
With the support of Gerard and other training officers at the C&G team, Safiha and Hui Sze have acquired specialised professional cleaning skills that will enhance their employability. They have also learnt to be more independent and to problem solve with minimal supervision.
Having been with the centre for such a long time, the pair have become unfazed in the face of unexpected situations, such as when they encounter broken items, leakage and so on. In such cases, they will swing into action to inform the training officer.
“Just recently, we had some frogs coming out from the toilets on the first floor. Although they were a little shocked, they knew not to touch it and immediately called me for help,” said Gerard with a laugh.
In April 2023, the two friends were assigned to their first external job. This was a office cleaning contract job under the Assisted Employment Programme with ComfortDelgro as part of a six-member team.
For this project, the training officers accompanied the trainees at all times to help them access the different rooms. Gerard recalls how even the training officers themselves got tired from climbing three flights of stairs, carrying buckets and mops up and down the different floors, as there were no lifts in the building. Yet instead of taking shortcuts or complaining, Safiha and Hui Sze did everything to the best of their ability.
Following that, Safiha and Hui Sze continued their work at SMEDC. With this positive exposure, both have been shortlisted as candidates for future ad-hoc employment opportunities.
“The two of them have a very positive work attitude, even with all the new tasks and work locations… I admire their determination to keep on going,” said Gerard.
Sharing the secret of what keeps her going, Hui Sze says, “Working makes me happy. I get to learn new things and meet new people”.
Persons with Intellectual Disability (PWIDs) receive vocational training and develop social skills through meaningful work engagements at MINDS Employment Development Centres (EDCs). Keen to find out how you can give PWIDs the chance for employment and join us as an inclusive employer? Learn more about our EDCs here or drop us an email today.