For most of us, watering plants in the garden or dabao-ing a packet of chicken rice back home may seem like simple, everyday tasks. But for Richard Ashworth, May Lee, and Rasamal D/O Nadaysan (affectionately known as Aunty Rose), such actions have become meaningful gestures that forged friendships within their communities.

As neighbours turn into friends and even family, their homes too have extended beyond the walls of their flats, to embrace the community around them.

These are their stories of home.   

Richard & May

The gardeners who grow fruits, vegetables, and great friendships at Bukit Batok Cosy Garden

Richard (left) and May (right) are fellow gardeners, neighbours, and friends

Nestled between Blocks 106 and 107 of Bukit Batok Central is a lush and beautifully landscaped space that is home to a variety of plants (vegetables, fruit trees, ornamental plants),, as well as koi and turtle ponds.

Welcome to Cosy Garden, the award-winning community garden in Bukit Batok Central where flowers and friendships bloom.

 Cosy Garden, a lush and beautifully landscaped garden that lies at the heart of Bukit Batok Central

The garden is aptly named, as residents young and old feel at home here. “In the day, teachers from the nearby childcare centre would bring the children here. It’s a such a joy to teach the little ones about the plants and animals that are in our garden,” says May. “At night, the residents like to gather to chit-chat or to enjoy the cool breeze and greenery – it’s very cosy indeed.”

May and Richard, both retirees in their 60s, are part of the team of resident volunteers that maintain the garden. “We’re  neighbours who share a common passion for gardening,” says Richard, who also crafted the sculptures for the garden. “In the midst of growing this garden, the residents have bonded and are now good friends.”

“It’s a garden by the residents, for the residents,” May adds. “It has also become an icon of our community.”

Aunty Rose

Everyone’s favourite Aunty who fills tummies with good food

Whether one speaks only Teochew, Hokkien, Cantonese, Malay, Chinese, or Tamil, just mention the name “Aunty Rose” to anyone in Dover Road and you’ll receive looks of recognition. Having lived in the estate for almost 50 years, the jovial 83-year-old is a familiar face to the residents and is always ready to strike up a conversation with anyone in any language on her regular walks around her estate. 

“Back in the kampung I grew up in, I had neighbours from all races,” Aunty Rose says. “We were a tightly-knit community and would look out for one another.”

Aunty Rose enjoys a close bond with her neighbours

She has brought this same kampung spirit into her home and community at Dover Road. If she is at the nearby kopitiam, she doesn’t have to think twice about buying back food for her neighbours. She has even looked after one neighbour when he was unwell and would encourage him to eat in order to regain his health.

“I think of everyone in this block as my family,” she says. “And family takes care of one another.”

What does home mean to you? For Richard, May and Aunty Rose, home is the community around them.

In celebration of HDB’s 60th anniversary, we have asked to share your stories of home and what home means to you. We’re heartened by the overwhelming response and would like to thank everyone for your photo submissions. The Shapes of Home online exhibition is now open – click here to uncover more stories and for the winning entries of the competition!

Photos by Atikah Razak

  • Farihin Khairunan

    Writer who believes that the simplest words make the greatest impact. Spends all her money on pretty notebooks that she will most probably never use.