SINGAPORE – It was during the Covid-19 pandemic that retired principal Mabel Wee spent more time in her neighborhood in Serangoon Gardens and fell in love all over again.
“I walked down street after street and rediscovered the beauty of this estate and the uniqueness of each house here,” said the 74-year-old former headmistress of Geylang Methodist (Primary) School, who lived in her lone house. storey semi-detached house with his family for 70 years.
In 2020, she decided to compile a book on Serangoon Gardens to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2024.
“This is probably the last thing I could do for my community,” said Ms. Wee, who invested $40,000 of her savings in the book project.
Her neighbors helped her without any problems to realize her colossal dream. Eight volunteers who share her passion for their neighborhood have come forward.
Ms Ngiam May Ling, a 51-year-old compliance officer, said: “The pandemic has renewed our love for our estate. We realized that we don’t need to leave Serangoon Gardens for everything we need.”
She added: “It has a relaxed English village feel and the French and Australian communities here make it more cosmopolitan.”
Mr Chan Kwong Lok, a 69-year-old retired university administrator, said: “It’s quiet and peaceful here, but it only takes five to 10 minutes to find the hustle and bustle like Chomp Chomp Food Centre, the market and other amenities.”
It took them three years to research, conduct interviews and complete the writing.
On February 17, the book – Vim, Vigor & Vitality: Spirited Voices of Serangoon Garden Estate – will be launched at the Serangoon Gardens Country Club. The 160-page book in English documents the voices of current and former residents and shopkeepers, as well as the events that shaped the estate. There are also photographs of the old estate, houses and shops to show the changing landscape, including images of kampungs.
Ms. Catherine Hu, a 64-year-old publisher and project advisor, admitted that at first she did not believe much in the initial project because none of the team was a writer.
“I believe Mabel’s leadership as a retired principal helped her see the big picture, conceptualize and execute,” Ms. Hu said. “I’m proud of her and the team.”
For Ms Lo Hui Meng, 67, a freelance early childhood educator, the project was an educational journey.
“I learned so much about this place. It is a microcosm of Singapore that is an analogue of how the nation has developed and progressed.”