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79-year-old says she is collecting cardboard to pass time and get some exercise

Mdm Cha said that she is cared for by her son and does not need help from social service agencies

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A Singaporean senior citizen has said that she is primarily collecting cardboard to pass time and get exercise, after a photo of her went viral on social media this week.

Facebook user Vladimir Guevarra spotted the hunched senior citizen collecting cardboard when he was cycling along Eng Hoon Street in Tiong Bahru, sometime last week. Mr Guevarra saw a Porsche SUV reversing towards the elderly lady who was obliviously arranging her stack of cardboard.

The driver thankfully managed to stop before he collided into the woman but Mr Guevarra was disturbed by how the elderly lady was invisible to the luxury car driver. Revealing that he approached the woman to check on her and found that she looked very tired, the netizen said that the lady looked “too old” and shouldn’t be doing what she was doing.

Mr Guevarra posted a photo showing the woman behind the Porsche car on social media, which quickly went viral. Singaporeans expressing concern over the elderly cardboard collector, with prominent figures like distinguished diplomat Tommy Koh and actor-director Ivan Heng opining that the photo reflected inequality in Singapore.

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Representatives of Mummy Yummy – a vegetarian hawker stall that provides aid to elderly cardboard collectors – tracked down the lady after two days of scouting Tiong Bahru.

Revealing that the woman is a 79-year-old called Mdm Cha, Mummy Yummy said on Facebook on Wednesday (9 Dec) that the woman told them that she is collecting cardboard “to pass time and exercise while getting a small income from it.”

Mdm Cha said that she is cared for by her son and that she does not need help from social service agencies. She said that her son is helping her manage the money she gets from the Silver Support scheme every quarter “so that she can be free from monetary hassles and live her carefree golden age.”

She added that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s staff often checked up on her wellbeing, during her conversation with Yummy Mummy.

Mummy Yummy tried to talk Mdm Cha out of cardboard collecting but she was resolute to continue doing so. The group ultimately compromised with her to be more careful about her health and road safety and said,

“She has happily agreed she will look left, look right and look again to see if there’s any cars or lorries coming before moving off with the loads to ensure her safety while doing her stuffs and go home safely to her son daily.”

The group added: “We encourage everyone to help and push her trolley whenever you guys see her especially on the roads. It will cut down her time moving around with the loads and it shouldn’t take you more than 30mins to do that. Thanks!”

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