SINGAPORE: It began with a soft crying sound and ended with two cleaners saving the life of an abandoned newborn boy.
As Patwari Shamim and Mostafa Kamal drove a buggy to collect rubbish bins from the 17 refuse chute chambers around Block 534 in Bedok North Street 3 on Tuesday, they heard crying in one of the bins.
Patwari, 24, thought he had misheard and asked his colleague.
Mostafa, 37, had also heard it and said it was probably a discarded toy doll with its batteries still intact.
In a decision that could well have decided the baby’s fate, Patwari, who was driving, stopped the buggy for Mostafa to check the bin.
The Bangladeshi men told their story in a mix of English and Bengali to The New Paper on Thursday.
When Mostafa opened the bin, a sheet of newspaper was on top, with a Sheng Siong supermarket bag that looked wet and bloody below. He stepped back in shock as something in the bag moved.
Patwari decided to look for himself and he could make out tiny limbs thrashing inside the bag.
He said: “Usually, we would just throw it away.
“We have found dolls that made crying noises before.
Patwari called their supervisor at the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council and he opened the bag.
Patwari saw a naked male infant lying in a small pool of water with blood on his body.
Part of the baby’s umbilical cord was still attached, he said.
The supervisor called the police and Patwari went back to the bin centre to grab a piece of cloth to clean and wrap the baby.
The police said on Tuesday they received a call for assistance at about 9am, and are still trying to trace the baby’s parents.
Paramedics checked the baby, and it was stable condition and was later taken to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Patwari, the second youngest of five siblings, said he is still reeling from the incident and was worried for the infant after the boy was taken to the hospital.
He said: “A policeman came here and I asked him how the baby was doing. I am happy to hear that he is healthy.”
Patwari, who is single, said he had a hard time trying to sleep on Tuesday.
“I kept thinking what would have happened if I had not seen the baby.
“I could have just dumped him into the bin centre to be crushed. He dies, I also die.
“I am so happy the baby is alive. I helped to save a life. I like my job even more now.”
“If possible, he would also like to meet the baby when he grows up, he said.
Mostafa, who has been working here for about two years, said it was a miracle the baby survived.
His 17-year-old son is a cleaner at a nearby block and a younger son, 11, is studying in Bangladesh.
He said: “It is amazing (the baby survived) because people are always throwing things, like bottles, down.
“As a father, this is one of the best things I have done in my life, saving somebody.” — The Straits Times/ANN